What’s the difference between scavenging, theft and looting? The answer depends entirely on who you ask and the situation you find yourself in.
Walking into a corner shop and taking a loaf of bread without paying is most definitely theft…but would it still be theft if the owners were lying dead and the world outside the store had gone to hell in a hand basket?
Scavenging tends to be defined by most people as picking up anything you find that may be useful but that doesn’t have an owner. The store keepers certainly own, or did own the bread, does the bread pass on to their relatives when they die? A kind of edible legacy. Is taking the bread therefore looting rather than straightforward theft or simple scavenging?
Don’t we normally regard looting as the stealing of televisions and clothing during riots?
You can see how situational circumstances come into it.
Whatever you choose to call it if there was some kind of breakdown of society there is going to be a lot of stuff whose legal ownership is no longer ascertainable. Would you help yourself to these goods? Are some good more acceptable to take than others?
All of these are questions we will have to address should there be a total breakdown.
There is no doubt that a total societal collapse is going to be caused by something big, really big. Most people assume that we would be in a grid down situation and that the very fabric of our lives will be under threat in such a situation. Again, it’s popularly thought that in a grid down situation there would be a large die off of the sick, the weak and the vulnerable. So what would you call taking the items they no longer they need once they have passed? Does it matter what we call it?
In such a situation, if my live alone neighbour has died am I wrong to take things from their home than I can make use of?
A different example. A close friend has a type one diabetic son, he is nine years old. In a total breakdown would my friend and I breaking into a pharmacy to get insulin to keep him alive be wrong?
You would be surprised how many people find the first example is unacceptable but agree the second one is fine. I think this is due to the personal aspect of the first example. You knew the elderly person, they were your neighbour, you may know that they have children and grandchildren who are no the rightful owners of what you are contemplating taking from their home. If they were local I doubt you would be contemplating removing the items in the first place…if they are not local will thy be able to make it to the home? The pharmacy example isn’t personal, its a drug storage area…no biggie. What if the elderly neighbour was diabetic and you knew they had insulin? Would it then become acceptable to take their property?
There will be numerous situations that will throw up ethical dilemmas in a collapse situation, and as usual thinking them through, and deciding where you stand beforehand, can save you wasting precious time procrastinating should you find yourself in in the middle of a crisis.
For me, my personal yardstick is would the item I am contemplating taking increase my chances, or my family’s chances of long term survival? If the answer is yes then I’m okay with that.
What we call the action of my taking it doesn’t matter to me, my child’s survival is what matters to me and I will spare no effort to ensure that she not only survives but thrives.