Tuesday, November 30, 2010

What's A Body To Do?

  Today, while I was at work, I pictured in my head some people being squeamish at the thought of having to kill a zombie.  I imagined a conversation beginning with the usual reservations about killing "friends and family".  I thought someone might point out that "they're dead" and someone asking "are they really?"  "Yes, they're walking around, but they're dead."  Someone might ask, "Don't you have any respect for the dead?"  To which, someone will reply, "With all that's going on right now, I don't have much respect for the dead."
  At this point, I came up with a good answer to that statement.  "That's not being fair.  The respect we should have is for the person they were before they died.  That person is not what you see walking around.  That is just their body.  If we always based our thoughts of the deceased upon the activities of their bodies, we'd think they're lazy, cold and smelling of formaldehyde.  Why would we ever respect the dead if all they do is lie around all day in coffins?"
  Of course, the person might ask, "So we're supposed to respect them while we're killing them?"  "We're not killing them.  They're already dead.  We're only laying their bodies to rest."  "We're still committing atrocious acts against their bodies."  "Yes, but that is merely in self-defense.  Every man has the right to protect himself and the ones he loves, whether it is against a living person, an animal or a walking corpse."
  Conversations like this are common in zombie tales.  Many of these stories delve into issues of morality and acceptable human conduct.  The value of human life is a core issue when faced with what looks like a human on the outside, but has no inner humanizing attributes.  It brings to question the difference between us and them.  Is it that we have a soul.  What is the lifeforce that drives us and what is it that drives them?
  My stories try to explore what happens to their souls once disconnected from their bodies.  These are very deeply personal questions for me and I do not pretend to have all the answers.  I believe this is something we should each be asking ourselves and a fictional story is as good a motivator to bring out such introspection as any I've seen.  I've been to school, I've been to church and I've been all around the world, but it is within the context of zombie movies and literature that I have found some of my deepest convictions on life, love, spirituality, heroism, cowardice, betrayal and ultimate redemption.

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