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Zombies: Viable threat or scare tactic

Updated on August 14, 2016
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Zombie origins

The thought of dead people walking the earth is not pleasant. It is the stuff nightmares and horror movies are made of. Zombies have had their place in myth and lore for decades. However, over the past twenty years or so, they have made a real impression on pop culture.

Most people can agree that the seeming origin of the zombie myth (?) is Haiti. There, it is believed that some people possess the power to bring dead people back to life. These powerful people are believed to practice the Voodoo religion and are sometimes referred to as witch doctors. The general purpose for creating zombies here is for slave labor and sometimes even revenge.

The threat of being turned into a zombie is not taken lightly in Haiti. In fact, it is an effective way to keep control over the general population. A sort of scare tactic that really works. No one really likes the idea of not having eternal peace after death.

An interesting thing to note is that the Haitian version of a zombie and the American version of a zombie are very different. In America, zombies are evil undead things that attack and eat the living. In Haiti, zombies are not evil as such, they are unwilling free labor in the fields.

Pop culture seems to take an idea and ran with it for about a decade or so. Think about vampires, machete wielding maniacs, aliens and vengeful ghosts as examples. Zombies are the latest installment in the pop culture machine. There are groups that believe in preparing for a possible zombie war or apocalypse.

Why zombies?

Sure there is something absolutely terrifying about dead people lumbering around in search of "braaains...", but what is the reason for it? Although very unlikely that dead people will rise from the grave, there is always that odd chance. This is a real concern and source of intrigue for some people. How did a horror myth suddenly turn into a viable worldwide concern?

The answer could lie within the fact that people have been fascinated with, and afraid of, death since the beginning of written time. Throughout recorded history death, corpse preparation and burial have had a large role in cultures around the globe. In fact, some societies took measures to make sure once a body was laid to rest, it stayed that way! Everything from locking caskets to bell systems have been used to insure people were not buried alive or so the dead could not escape the grave.

The reason zombies are so scary is that they are perhaps the perfect killing agents. They do not need oxygen, sunlight, companionship, shelter or any other comforts for survival. Apparently, all they need to do is feed on living flesh. This combination of re-animated corpses and cannibalism really is a horrific idea. It plays on one of the oldest fears shared by the world: there are worse things than death.

What would you do if confronted by a zombie?

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Myth becoming reality

The saddest part about the whole zombie apocalypse theory is that there is always a chance it could happen. Perhaps not in this decade or even century, but it could happen at some point. At least that is what some groups would have us believe. Drugs, chemical warfare, severe illnesses, and even contaminated water and food supplies could all be factors in making the zombie horror movie come to life.

Sounds like more paranoid conspiracy theory stuff, right? It very well could be just that, theory. It also could be the total breakdown of humanity as we know it. Perhaps it is how the surplus population will be decreased; survival of the fittest and all that.

What it all comes down to is killing each other. It seems we are bent on destroying ourselves in some way. This is no theory, read the history books, it's all there. We have declared wars and millions of people have died, contaminated food and water supplies in times past, blown ourselves up and caused devastating fires. We also shoot each other, stab, beat and run each other over on the streets. A zombie apocalypse almost seems like it fits right in. After all, if zombies come into existence, it will be because we created them.

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The end is near...

No, I'm not a doomsday enthusiast or prepper. I prefer to fill my days with happy thoughts of cute puppies and gentle rainfall. I am, however, a realist. I know that the best horror show is the nightly news and that this world is not always the best place to live. I also know that zombies will be replaced by the next best horrifying thing in pop culture, as were vampires and those machete wielding maniacs.

The question is, just because zombies are replaced in the movie house, will the threat and fascination fade too? Maybe we really are teetering at the brink of an all out war with ourselves. The dead taking revenge on the living. It doesn't matter how it comes about, IF it comes about, the results would be catastrophic to say the least.

Whether through zombie warfare or worldwide food shortage, something in this old world has to give eventually. We have squandered the gifts we were given. No, not a religious ideology, just a statement of fact. We have polluted our air and water for centuries, insisted on killing each other over petty things and yet have no idea why global society is breaking down. Then again, maybe there never really was a global society. Maybe it has always been man against man.

Back to puppies and rainfall

A zombie apocalypse could be looming in the future. This is a fact from a realist's point of view. Am I going to panic and become paranoid? Um...no. The reason I am not going to spend the rest of my life being paranoid over something that may never happen (at least hopefully not in my lifetime) is that I would rather take each day as it comes.

I do believe people should be prepared for possible disasters. For example having an emergency kit in case of loss of power during severe weather or being stranded if the car breaks down. I don't think there is anything wrong with having a shelter prepared, if you have the means. I also think it's fine to have a "Bug out Box" in case of a zombie attack. What I do not think is fine is being paranoid and trying to cause mass hysteria. Panic can get you killed in many different scenarios.

As for me, for now I am going to retreat to my happy thoughts of those cute puppies and gentle rainfall. It is always good to have a happy place in your mind for relieving stress. All this talk about those creepy zombies is rather stressful.

© 2014 Tammy Cramblett

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