I know I am in the minority when I say this, but I do not like zombies.
Which is and is not true. I *do* like Zombies. I happens to be friends with a man who organizes Zombie Walks in Seattle, where hundreds of people dress like the dead and do the moan-n-shuffle down main thoroughfares. I am friends with a woman who volunteered to be a survivor in the Survivors vs. Zombies VI. I met the girl who currently runs the Thrillingham zombie group at the Farmer’s Market. Another dear friend of mine lurves Zombies and also has prepared for the Zombpocalypse, should it ever come.
When I see Zombies, though, I don’t see fetid creatures of the undead seeking out my spicy brains. I see a homogeneous mass of half-aware people who would prefer to criticize a person for trying something new rather than try to break out of their self-induced coma. I see people who embody the definition of insanity, doing the same things over and over again expecting a different result. I see people who do not have expertise but believe that they do, judging someone and cutting them down until they give up and vomit the same ennui that everybody else does.
When I see these images, I try to balance them out with beautiful things. Art, or stories, or uplifting photography, or maybe even people’s anecdotes about a brush with a truly unique person or situation.
The curse of reason is the necessity of judgment. Just as our sense of spatial awareness lets us know where we are relative to our surroundings, our judgment tells us if an object is food, or shelter, or dangerous. Our judgment also helps us to protect ourselves against those who might manipulate us for gain. No one likes being judged, yet we all must judge if we are to survive.
Zombies, to me, embody that overwhelming sense of judgment coming from a group that believes you are standing out too far from the crowd. Zombies are the critics that try to stop you, would rather kill you than see you succeed. They want to eat your brains, to scoop out that which makes you who you are and make you one of them, a soulless, lifeless being that hunts down beauty and uniqueness and destroys it utterly.
In every Zombie movie, either humans or zombies end triumphant. I have finally seen one Zombie film where they find a cure for zombie-ism, and of course the cure is love. I feel that story rings the most true, that the only way to cure an infestation of toxic people bent on withdrawing your brain from your cranial cavity (figuratively speaking, of course) is to hook them into something they can love. It doesn’t have to be romantic love. Love of dance, love of music, love of painting, all these things are passions that can reach those who have shut out their inner fire.
Sometimes Zombies live within our minds, the little voices that assure us that we’ll never be good enough anyway so it seems better to just give up now and save ourselves the embarrassment. I know that is true with me. I’m very quick to judge myself, and I am always the harshest critic. I did spend a few painful years in school being harried by Zombies, but now that I’m older, I realize that almost every person deals with that at some point in their life, especially in school. I’m learning to tame my inner Zombie and set it up in a shed with an X-box, a la Shaun of the Dead.
I hope that our culture can move past this Zombie phase and begin to identify with truth and beauty a little more, and see the world with hope again. I spoke with a man tonight who remembers the sixties, and is more than a little disappointed that there aren’t people hanging out on the Moon by now. He has seen technological achievements slow down, become smaller, and while the Internet in the palm of a hand is a neat tool, it’s the sonic screwdriver without the TARDIS. One will get the job done, but the other will take you to lands beyond imagination.
We need to reclaim our love, our passion, from the dim gray horizon. It’s time that people stopped freaking out about the future and start to forge one they can love. Just because we think we know what is possible doesn’t mean we should stop dreaming about what will be possible.
If we stop dreaming, the Zombies win.