Charity and that hitchhiker from The Walking Dead

Speaking of The Walking Dead, I managed to pick up a cold that has knocked me on my butt for the last day or so. I’m hoping that because it’s such an intense amount of discomfort and suffering that it will burn itself out quickly…the candle that burns twice as bright burning half as long, and all that jazz.

The most recent episode of The Walking Dead brought up an interesting scenario – the hitchhiker. If you havent seen the eipsode you may wanna skip the rest of this post.


No? Ok then…..

So here’s the scene: our three heroes are driving down a two-lane road in the sticks. No buildings, no signs of civilization, nothing. Heavy woods along both sides of the road. As they continue on their way, they approach a hitchhiker walking along the road. The hitchhiker waves frantically at the oncoming car, screaming and begging them to stop. Our heroes in the car ignore him completely, and whip by him without a glance. On the return trip along that same road they find a pile of blood and gore next to the hitchhikers backpack…implying the hitchhiker had succumbed to the zombies. Our heroes stop the car, pick up the backpack, and continue on their way.


This man very much needs a 10/22.

As you might imagine, this led to some interesting discussions in other forums. Most of the comments opined that there was no way of knowing if the hitchhiker was merely bait used by ambushers waiting in the woods and that stopping would be an unacceptable risk. One person suggested that the car should have stopped at a safe distance, they shoot and kill the hitchhiker from range, and then continue on past him..the idea being that he would somehow be a threat as you whipped by him at 60 mph. The idea of arbitrarily killing someone just because he’s walking along the road I need to drive on seemed a little extreme.

My take on it would have been to drive past him a quarter mile or half mile so he could see me stop, and then, assuming I could spare it, leave some supplies in the middle of the road for him.

This, naturally, brings up the topic of charity in a disaster/EOTWAWKI situation. There is a school of thought that says there is a ‘Christian duty’ to provide charity. I see this term bandied about frequently when the topic comes up. This kinda bothers me because it implies that non-religious people are naturally non-charitable and that only by adopting some sort of belief system can you be compelled to overcome your naturally non-charitable nature. I, of course, disagree with this. I think that a person can have a charitable nature without a religious or spiritual underpinning. Additionally, if youre being charitable out of some sort of religious mandate or compunction then youre not being charitable, youre simply following orders.

My own take on the subject of charity is that there are far too many people in the world, even outside of disasters and EOTWAWKI events, to help. Every one of us has limited resources and, naturally, our priorities are to ourselves and our loved ones first. (Our ‘tribe’, if you want to put it into simpler terms.) Once those needs are taken care of, there’s a sort of ‘charity triage’. You cannot help everyone so who do you help? Or, since you can’t help everybody should you then help nobody? And if you choose not to help anyone, how do you answer the inevitable pointed question of “Well, what if was you in that situation? Wouldnt you want someone to help you?”

I usually answer that by saying that while I would want someone to help me, I wouldn’t expect it and I’d be quite understanding of someone not helping. One of the reasons I’ve gone through twenty-plus years of being a survivalist is so I dont find myself in that Blanche Dubois situation of having to rely on the kindness of strangers. Invariably, some genius will respond with “Well what if your house burns down and you lose all your stuff and you have nothing and have to rely on charity, then what?” Well, then I mentally kick my own ass for putting all my eggs in one basket.

Certainly, if I had ‘plenty’ and if I thought the person was worth the expenditure of resources and if I could do it safely and, most importantly, if being charitable didn’t increase the risk to my tribe, then, yes, I’d be charitable. I certainly would not ‘give till it hurts’ because, logically, if you give till it hurts than you’ve obviously given too much. I’m certainly not going to engage in charitable giving that loads risk onto my end of things. Sorry youre having a bad apocalypse, dont come any closer, heres a couple MRE’s and some bottled water, don’t come back.

I figure that one year after the zombie apocalypse that hitchhiker must have been doing something right to still be alive. I’m willing to believe he had a run of bad luck and lost his weapons and his vehicle and thats why he was on foot, apparently unarmed. As I said, I’d’ve dropped off some supllies down the road if I could spare them, but thats about as close and personal as Im going to get to some stranger in a situation like that.

12 thoughts on “Charity and that hitchhiker from The Walking Dead

  1. I couldn’t believe how close they were to where it all started. Atlanta and North Georgia, where this started, are a ways apart and I had assumed they’d made some futher progress toward South Georgia from the way they were talking about going to Ft. Benning in earlier episodes. Certainly not driving close in a few minutes time.

  2. Good points CZ. My view on religion is slightly different than yours, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

    Vis-a-vis the hitchiker. I hadn’t even thought about him being bait, guess his entrails all over the highway proved he wasn’t. Help? Sure. At a distance.

    Let’s be honest – this ties in with my “Worst mom ever award” for Lori. To wit: You are in a world where 99% of the people want to EAT you. (or your son). Of the remaining 1%, 99% of them would put a shovel in your head to take your stuff. (And you can’t keep track of your son?) .

    /\ THAT’S the problem being a lone wolf. You can’t sleep. And if you do you better have (like LJ did) a series of early detection devices, AND caches.

  3. Supposedly the guy has been surviving alone for a year and a half, and a car speeding by sets him so off kilter that he lets himself get eaten?

    It doesn’t seem that reasonable.

  4. I would have to subscribe to the “charity starts and ends with the tribe” school of thought on this one. Pass him by and cause no harm to him if he makes no threatening moves, because he just could be bait for bad people hiding in the bushes. As to having some skills to last as long as he has my wife has a saying that mostly always rings true…”the stupid ones always seem to survive”. Which takes us back to “Hitchhickers Guide to the Galaxy” where all the hair dressers survive. Of course if it is a good looking blonde alone on the road in Zombie land we drive by and take her out as she is surely bait for a trap, and 1/4 mile down the road toss out some poisioned food to finish the rest of the bad guys…just to be safe and spare others hardship!

  5. Sorry, I’m stuck on your rationale for discounting charity if it proceeds from a religious motivation.

    “Charity : generosity and helpfulness especially toward the needy or suffering; also : aid given to those in need.”

    Explain please how one is being neither helpful nor generous simply because they’re following the precepts of whatever teachings they adhere to.

    The act itself defines charity. Claiming that it hasn’t happened because it proceeded from higher moral guidance than the law of the jungle is nonsense.
    I suggest a rethink.

    What was notable historically about “Christian charity”, compared to any other type before and most since, was the expansion of the scope of the objects of such generosity to everyone, including your vilest enemies.
    Helping solely your own family or tribe was specifically identified as “So what? Even the heathen do that much.”
    The point of the story of the Good Samaritan was precisely that he was held in the utmost contempt, and yet his example of generousity towards someone in need who would have spit on him given the chance was held out as the charitable example to follow when asking “Who is my brother?”.
    The lesson’s echoes can be found in Kipling’s ode from a British soldier to “Gunga Din”, or even in movies like “48 Hours”, or “Midnight Run”, just examples off the top of my head.

    Getting back to WD plot notes, a hitchhiker 3+ years into the problem is, by definition, not one of “the stupid”. Anybody that’s managed to last on his own that long has got some mad skillz, or he wouldn’t BE there.

    That being the case, and given the shortage of strong bodies vs. the zombie hordes, not helping the guy isn’t just ungenerous, it’s actually rather foolish, and incredibly short-sighted. Anybody who can swing a machete or point a spear is unbelievably more valuable than not, and worth the chance, besides the fresh set of eyes, intel, and experiences from someplace outside the Tribe’s viewpoint.

    And if somehow, there’s a snag, and he doesn’t work out, there’s nothing to prevent handing him a full canteen and a bologna sandwich, and dropping him off right back on the same stretch of highway you found him later on, or taking him out somewhere new, and wishing him well.

    My $0.02.

  6. Maybe in 1950’s when Dad stopped to give a ride to a uniformed GI who turned out to be an Army Photographer and we still have the photos of us boys,,,Never ever ever today. Call 911 and report the situation and let them deal with it if yo;u feel like you have to do something. Do not put yourself or your loved ones in that situation… there are too many bad actors and documented bad outcomes today even if you are armed. It is not worth the chance.

  7. @ Aesop – I think vis-a-vis the hitchhiker there was a line of thought that he is not alone and could be acting as bait. But yeah, even Herschel said “You have to start giving people a chance”. If not, ‘The group’ will just get whittled down to nothing.

  8. Or…
    1. He may have been bait but a walker got to him before his pals could help
    2….or his pals didn’t want to waste ammo to help him
    3….or a sudden herd of walkers got to him and his pals tookoff
    4….we didn’t see the face of the dead guy on the highway. We ASSUME it was the same hitchhiker the 3 heroes passed up since the backpack was there.

  9. First off, the hitchhiker was a very unlikely survivor. His pot and pans dangling from his backpack would have made him a beacon for predators, living or undead, because of the noise. Here comes this guy out of the bush after how long since the infection started and he doesn’t carry any type of weapon, he runs down the down the road banging and jangling like a herd of cowbells. He was going to end up zombie chow sooner or later anyway. He may have survived to that point on luck, but why trouble yourself with someone who has so little sense of self preservation. He’d eventually get everyone killed. Otherwise, probably the best episode this season.

    • Well, to be fair, theres nothing that says he had been living the previous 364 days the same as that one day we saw him. Maybe up until a week ago he was a heavily armed member of some community and he got driven out with just the clothes on his back because he got caught shagging the mayors wife? Who knows? But it’s quite possible that the way he was living when we saw him wasnt necesarily the way he’d been living for the previous 12 months.

  10. I find it hillarious that they thought about this guy may be as a threat but are willing to drive a bus full of strangers into their own hideout in the season’s final. It’s just RICKulous!

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