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July 2010

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Not just zombies, but social commentary.

For those that know me, they will say that I'm obsessed with two things: the end of the world, and zombies. I'm especially a fan of the end of the world via zombies. Zombie apocalypses have fascinated me since I first watched George Romero's original film, Night of the Living Dead (1968). I was six years old and my imagination was captured. Zombies, the living dead; soulless creatures who roam the streets, seeking warm flesh to feed on. They're much scarier than ghosts. Ghosts can barely make a vase move, let alone eat you. Some zombies were once our friends or family. They have the same face, the same body shape, but the dearly departed is gone. In their place, a mindless ghoul shuffles after you. There's no room for emotion, for memories to stay your trigger finger. It is killed or be killed and eaten, and then turn into a creature that kills people to eat. It's ruthless. It's awful.

Zombies have haunted the halls of society's imagination since their inception, living on the outskirts of the mainstream and lurking in the dark underbelly of those daring enough to think about them. Over time, the zombie has evolved from a once dead person, raised by a mysterious meteor that crashed to earth, to someone who's brain has been riddled with an awful virus. Capcom's video game, Resident Evil, reconfigured the zombie curse and put it into plain, twentieth century terms: zombies are born out of a biological weapon that kills the human host and reanimates its body, causing it to feed on living flesh.

Zombies are no longer a freak of nature. They are us, created by us, and they will destroy us. Now let me pause by saying that I do not think that zombies actually exist. At least, not yet anyways. If you can imagine it, it is possible. Though, it does not mean that it will happen. No, zombies don't exist, but the fear they represent does.

Zombies are representative of many of society's fears. The scariest creatures to ever have been imagined were once human, they were once just like ourselves. And this is the number one fear: we fear ourselves. Granted, most of us don't get up in the morning, look in the mirror and say, "man, I am one scary person." Some might... but most don't. We don't fear our particular self, we fear our species as a whole. We are afraid of what we are capable of. We seek knowledge, but never wisdom. We seek out what will make us the most powerful and the richest, but never what makes us the most generous, or loving, or humble. We seek to be the best of the best in our species, high above all other mammals, but never what is best for our species as a whole. On some level, we are all aware of this. Could we create some sort of biological weapon that would wipe out our species by turning us all violently against each other? Yes, someday, if we haven't already. And if not a biological weapon, war in general is enough to destroy us should we make it a nuclear war. There are enough nuclear weapons on this planet to wipe us out five times over.

Our number two fear: we are already zombies. We live in a world where many people have become soulless, hungry creatures, seeking only to fulfill their own desires and pleasures. They are insatiable and they will stop at nothing to get what they want; they feed off the lowly and the poor; and they are dead inside, having forgotten all about the dignity of the human life. We live in a society of zombies, walking around mindlessly.

Our number three fear: disease. All these zombie films and literature show that the zombie virus or infection is spread through blood contact. Does it remind any of you of a world-wide virus that's killed millions of people and is spread through the contact of bodily fluids, primarily blood? HIV. It has ravaged the world, especially the poorer countries. Granted, it doesn't turn people into lean, green, flesh-eating machines, but you get my point.

Zombies are not just zombies. People are fascinated with the zombie genre because there is so much more going on than a blood and gore fest. Though I won't lie, many folks just like the blood and gore fest alone. Friggin' zombies. Would I encourage people to go out and watch zombie movies in order to have a better understanding of our culture? No. But I have a plan to save the world, one zombie at a time, to show them that it's not just death in this world. That resurrection, true resurrection and not just the living dead, is real. I will do this by living a resurrected life of love and kindness, to the best of my God given abilities.

And...if a real zombie apocalypse should ever occur, I have an escape/survival plan in order, as every good zombie enthusiast should.