Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Character Development and Morality in the Zombie Apocalypse

When my brother first introduced me to The Walking Dead, it was in the beginning of the second season. He gave me a brief synopsis of the season premier so that I would know what was going on, and went on to say, "You see, life is so precious now that they'll do everything they can to save that life."

Indeed, in the series, there is a distinct absence of animals as the insatiable zombies aren't just cannibals, but free-range carnivores.

Now that I've finally seen the first two seasons, in order and in proper context, the character development taking place has caught my interest. Commentary on the show (Talking Dead) speaks of characters "devolving" or some other sometimes incoherent descriptions, underscored with their own take on morality. They call some characters "good" when said character has actually, through my Catholic eyes, done some pretty atrocious things.

It's a very intelligently-written show, as the actions being taken by the various characters, the questions being asked...I could see all of those things taking place. One thing they haven't discussed on the show, Talking Dead, is an observation I make based on personal experience:

The situation intensifies and illuminates personal flaws and strengths.

Think about it. A bunch of people who wouldn't necessarily get along in "real life" if that still existed, are somehow thrown together and immediately must depend on each other for survival. People who held prejudices will overcome them to save a life, because that becomes the right thing to do, unless they hadn't the strength of character to begin with to overcome a petty hatred.

In college, like many, I studied abroad. One of the things the previous year's group told ours was that it didn't matter if we "get along" or not stateside. Because, "over there" we were going to be all we had; we would "get along" out of necessity.

As it turned out, in all of that getting or not-getting along, our own personal failings were definitely brought to light, and new strengths revealed. If we had disagreements, we were forced to work through them instead of walking away. Decisions were made for the good of the group when it was necessary to do so. Why? Because we couldn't afford to be divided; we needed each other.

In Religious Life, (Brother, Sister, Monk, Nun) one of the things I learned (not as a religious, but what Religious men and women have told me), the same kind of situation exists. A Sister may enter a convent and whether she and the other Sisters like each other or not, they must get along. In that case, it's part of growing in holiness, but of course, some may be shocked that sin is not left outside the door. No one is immune from sin and imperfection. So it is that since they spend so much time in such close quarters, praying, working, living together, any personal flaws are quickly revealed. Those discerning that community may be able to work with that, or they won't or can't.

It's just a fact of human nature; and it's a fact revealed in "The Walking Dead" as well.  In going back to re-watch the beginning of the series, I saw immediately some of the character flaws which seemed very small at the beginning, but quickly got out of hand as the crisis of trying to survive under constant stress continued.

Who could fight zombies day and and day out and not be affected?

This is why it would be important to prepare one's soul in the event such a catastrophe occurred. This may sound surprising, but a "Zombie Apocalypse" is actually quite possible. Perhaps not exactly in the way portrayed, but biological warfare is a reality and it has been said that with the right combination, a virus could be created that would turn people in to raving murderers.

In that event, of course survivors would band together, and in all likelihood, those survivors wouldn't be automatic Saints. In fact, those who think they are "the most moral" of character may find out they have a great great weakness that could either corrupt them entirely or damage others in some way, whether spiritually or physically (as in the event of a zombie attack). Something for any self-identifying Christian to consider. Who are you really? Know your flaws and your strengths, and look at them honestly.

All of life is about growing in holiness, and hopefully we won't need a crisis situation creating small cobbled-together groups of survivors in order for that to happen.

But in case it does....be ready. One never knows when the zombies will come...

For more information on Zombie Science check out:

Zombie Research Society

Zombie Hub

Topics up next:  Examining the Zombie Apocalypse with St. Thomas Aquinas and other great non-infected minds.  Morality in the time of Zombies.


ignorant redneck said...

This is an interesting post on the Zombie Apocalypse meme. One thing I would say as well--the getting along despite the differences manifested itself int he Army as well.

Those who couldn't get past it, didn't get past basic training.

Julie Olson said...

Ah, yes, the military! Great point! And what are the survivors but the newly-emerging militia if not by enlistment or recruitment, then by necessity.

A great time to have had survival training. Would want you on my team!