When viewing the reestablishment of a society through an outside perspective, such as presented in the book Station Eleven, one can recognize and determine the most important components of a society, community, and culture. The foundations of a society often center around its ability to establish and maintain a sense of “normality”, which in the case of the current United States, is the ability to use technology, freely travel, work, create a home, and live an ideal lifestyle. The loss of such normality, as shown in the novel, is disastrous and completely collapses the social laws and norms, causing a need for society to rebuild itself. Rebuilding a society after being destroyed is extremely difficult and takes an incredible amount of time; however, not only is such a task possible with the correct resources and sufficient number of individuals, but it also provides an opportunity to build an even better, more sustainable society for the future. To attempt rebuilding society, one must understand exactly what a society is.
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According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, the definition of a society is “a voluntary association of individuals for common ends”. In a broader explanation, a society is a self-sufficient, sustainable group or community of individuals who can come together and create their own culture and identity. Societies commonly possess a legal system, and a form of hierarchy which governs and determines the types of laws the society should be subjected to; furthermore, they often have a structured economic system and language. The unity provided by a society helps to protect and promote order amongst those in the community, and also helps to promote prosperity for every individual. In general, the commonly accepted idea of a society can be found amongst all groups of people in the world, and is found alongside the many building blocks which help to shape and form a community. While many building blocks of a society exist, such as family life, legal system, and economic stability, certain building blocks are crucial in helping to form a new and sustainable community. In a situation where a society must be reconstructed from the ashes of an older society, such as the society in Station Eleven, focusing on the building blocks of human relationships, sustainability, and hope for a better future are all the most valuable. A society cannot be built or sustain itself if the individuals in the community do not share a common goal of a better future, have commitment to the society, and “…aspire to ‘do’ as they would be ‘done by’ and to live good lives that serve good ends”.
Moral and ethical laws are the key aspects in preventing a society from becoming corrupt, and respect, consideration, equality, and fairness all should be factors in how individuals relate to and treat one another. As shown in Station Eleven, a society under a dictator and built on fear will not be able to sustain itself for a long time, nor will the community prosper; therefore, focusing on human relations and a hope for a better future are incredibly important to any society, especially a new one, keeping hope alive and a positive attitude in the community stems from the society’s ability to provide a sustainable life for its inhabitants. Any successful society is built upon the building block of sustainability and should have the ability to survive on its own. A community should possess a consistent supply of food, water, a safe location for individuals to inhabit, and should be able to successfully defend itself from any harm. Developing such sustainability is important for any community, as it insures individuals possess time to focus their attention on making life more convenient, and eventually building a society which is superior to the previous one. The ability to scavenge and learn how to recreate many of the conveniences lost, such as electricity, cell phones, and automobiles is beneficial, and every capable individual in the society should attempt “…to rediscover how the world works and then exploit that knowledge for…improving…life”. This time also allows for creativity, and for individuals to explore new options which may advance society farther than before, such as more renewable energy and less pollution.
In Station Eleven, the ability of survivors to find practicality in so many items taken for granted today proves how useful extra time can be, how much hope it can bring, and how crucial such time is for improving life after a catastrophic event. The previously listed three building blocks, when combined together, are fundamental to rebuilding a society; however, to fully reestablish a new society, one must look deeper into how exactly societies should be reconstructed after all normality is lost. As with the list of building blocks, a list of steps to rebuild society also exists.
Firstly, individuals should survive the catastrophic event which wipes out nearly the entirety of the human race. As in Station Eleven, chance, fate, and pure circumstance are the biggest factors for survival, and a lot of individuals may choose to die voluntarily. Once the main portion of the catastrophic event has passed and survivors are scantily left all over the world, reestablishing any form of a community or society requires individuals to join together peacefully and willingly. Such a task may be difficult, as many will feel defensive and be willing to fight for basic life necessities; however, as with any society, different groups of individuals with similar mindsets and culture traits will eventually come together, such as the Traveling Symphony and their bond of music and Shakespeare. Finding others and forming a community comprise the second and third steps of the list to reestablish society.
The fourth step closely follows the second building block mentioned previously: sustainability. Food, water, a secure location to live, and renewable resources all are fundamental to a society; furthermore, to insure sustainability, a society should possess political stability and order, democracy, resilience, appropriately balanced demographics as related to gender and age, and good quality soil. While all of these may be difficult to obtain due to the consequences of the disastrous event which destroyed society, a community should attempt to possess all of these traits to be truly sustainable. A society should not only be able to sustain current members, but as addressed in Station Eleven, children and future inhabitants of the society must also be able to add to the society, and the population should continue to grow as long as the available resources permit it. Although in Station Eleven works had to preserve items from the past, such a task is not important; rather, the community should focus on creating new inventions and ideas to make their society even more practical than before. The fifth and final step in rebuilding society is to continuously work to make the society the best it can possibly be. In truth, the work of building a truly great society is never done; issues to solve will always exist, and problems to fix will always arise. Of the many items which will be left behind in a completely collapsed society, only one utmost important characteristic exists: “…the one thing you would need to preserve to reboot a civilization as quickly as possible and to accelerate that redevelopment would be the scientific method”.
Process, trial and error, and continually attempting to solve for new and greater ideas to add to a growing and expanding society are all integral parts in expanding a new world. Concepts such as fully green energy, new government systems, and organic communities can be used in a new society if desired, and even newer and brighter ideas could surface by new circumstances faced in the world. Working to rebuild society to its original state would be convenient; however, working towards a society which is superior to the old in more ways than one is truly the best any society could do. Reconstructing society after a catastrophic event would take considerable time, endurance, resilience, and persistence. To reestablish a feeling of normality and true sustainability amongst a group of people would be difficult, but most certainly not impossible. As shown in the society built in the Severn City Airport, human desire to possess a common culture and identity will always prevail and produce a society which desires to mimic the old; furthermore, a community may even be able to surpass the old in progress and produce something beautiful from tragedy.
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