There's No Light
Updated: Jul 2, 2021
Could you imagine your life without the benefit of electricity?
How would you continue to work? What would school look like? How would we ever survive without Netflix or Hulu?
This is a very real situation for some people in the world, even today, but the characters in the fictional world of Divided faced this head-on. After years of racial tensions, riots and then gang wars decimated America’s cities, our enemies took advantage of our vulnerability and pounded our coasts with nuclear weapons. Then, the unthinkable happened. The rest of the nation was plunged into darkness by an EMP then ruled ruthlessly by a drug lord, turned dictator who enslaved an entire nation for his own benefit.
But, let’s go back to the EMP.
An EMP is an Electro-Magnetic Pulse produced by exploding a nuclear weapon high in the atmosphere. The nuclear explosion is then distributed southward by the natural magnetic atmosphere of the earth, distributing the electronics-busting energy outward and southward. If an EMP were detonated over the northern US, say someplace in South Dakota or Minnesota, the impact would fry electronic devices in a wide cone affecting almost the entire continental United States..
No cell phones or laptops or tablets.
Most cars wouldn’t run, as modern automobiles are more electronics than machine.
No factories, hospitals, governmental services, buses, trains, planes, you name it.
No running water.
The US would be plunged into darkness each night. The silence would be deep.
How would you survive?
From first-hand accounts told me when I was in Puerto Rico recently, I can tell you how they survived the dark season after Hurricane Maria hit their island, a slightly different situation as all their electronic devices still technically worked. The nation simply had no power after the hurricane shredded the island’s power grid.
They worked together.
Communities pooled resources, sharing generators and refrigerator space. Cooking meals over outdoor cook fires collectively. Making sure their neighbors had access to food and clean water. And they did this in the Rio Grande / El Yunque region for over a year. That’s how long it took to get power to the far northeastern part of the island that the hurricane affected most (imagine a twelve hour tornado hovering in the same place and that’s what Maria did!).
Would we be so communal, so selfless in the continental US? I’m not so sure. The division and hostility we all witnessed during the 2020 race riots produced a divide in our society so deep that only a serious shaking will snap us out of our trenches. Today, I see divisions over race, class, economics, education, politics, gender identity and ideology. We are on a path toward self-destruction in how we relate to one another. We have a magnificent country, but we could so easily lose the freedoms we too often take for granted. In the blink of an eye, it could all be gone. Our divisions leave us vulnerable to the plans and schemes of those bent against our ideals of democracy and freedom.
Where do we go from here?
We must learn to listen first. Ask questions. Seek to understand and relate. Then build bridges. Only when we begin to come together across the divisions will we be able to be the UNITED States of America.