I’m a pretty good guy. At least this is how I think of myself. I don’t steal and am generally honest. If someone needs help, I will help them. I’m not as good as some of my neigbours, but I’m certainly better than others. Also to my credit, I confess to the sin of pride with some regularity.
This past Good Friday, I had an epiphany: It’s easy to be good when you live in the suburbs.
There are other places and other times where it’s not so easy to be good.
When I walked out of the theatre after watching Selma, I was left with the question, “Would I have participated in the march to secure equal voting rights from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama in 1965.” I’d like to think I would, but I don’t really know. After I read a biography on Dietrich Bonhoeffer, I was left with the question–Would I have resisted the Nazi campaign against the Jews, like Bonhoeffer, or turned a blind eye as so many did? I’m not really sure I would have chosen the road of justice.
This is the exact question that I regularly ask myself when I watch The Walking Dead. The world created by zombies forces the survivors to make moral choices that those of us contentedly living in the suburbs do not.
Wait, that’s not exactly true. The moral choices are not all that different; the difference is one of degree. In the suburbs my sin is undue irritation at my neighbour’s dog urinating on my shrubs. In Zombieland, my sin is to kill my neighbours dog and eat it without sharing it with its owner. And this may not be the extent to which I will go in order to save myself.
Zombie narratives ask some very tough questions of its viewers. If the great quest of every human being is to pursue the Socratic injunction to “know thyself,” it would do us good to answer these questions as honestly as we can.