THE ZOMBIE PHENOMENENON

By: Noreen Gastineau-Lambert

Co-host of the Homestead Honey Hour

When I was a teenager, zombie movies were all the rage.  One of my friends used to say, “the dead-er the better”.  When I was in high school, a group of my friends and I used to have what we called “Gore fests” every Friday night.  We would take turns hosting and choosing a few choice movies on VHS and enjoy each others’ company.  Zombies were often on the bill.

Now that I am a few years older, and hopefully wiser, I don’t watch those types of movies as often as I used to.  I still enjoy them from time to time, but they just aren’t what they used to be.  Neither are Zombies!  I have noticed of late, and maybe you have as well, that Zombies have permeated our lives by sneaking into everyday conversation, television, fiction and even scientific anomaly.  I am calling this, the zombie phenomenon.

The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy explains “zombie” like this:

Zombies in philosophy are imaginary creatures used to illuminate problems about consciousness and its relation to the physical world.  Unlike those in films or witchcraft, they are exactly like us in all physical respects but without conscious experiences:  by definition, there is ‘nothing it is like’ to be a zombie. Yet zombies behave just like us, and some even spend a lot of time discussing consciousness.

Few people think zombies actually exist.  But many hold they are at least conceivable, and some that they are possible.  It is argued that if zombies are so much as a bare possibility, then physicalism is false and some kind of dualism is true.  For many philosophers that is the chief importance of the zombie idea.  But the idea is also of interest for its presuppositions about the nature of consciousness and how the physical and the phenomenal are related.  Use of the zombie idea against physicalism also raises more general questions about relations between imaginability, conceivability, and possibility.  Finally, zombies raise epistemological difficulties: they reinstate the ‘other minds’ problem.

Zombies have been with us as a civilization for thousands of years.  Zombies are the undead.  They have all of the physical characteristics of you and I, meaning they are human (or used to be) however they lack a soul.  They are simply meandering beings searching for sustenance and that is usually living human flesh, brains, etc.    They are animated corpses resurrected back to life by any number of means, including: witchcraft, voodoo, hoodoo, etc.

Common sense tells us that Zombies are not real.  We live and then we die.  There is little chance that we will actually have to one day fight off the undead as they rise from their graves.  At least I hope we don’t anyway.  However, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in May of 2011, issued an article about preparing for a zombie apocalypse.  The article goes on to suggest that a zombie apocalypse is entirely possible because there are zombies in movies and television shows.  It urges the reader to prepare emergency kits, storable food, water, medical supplies and tools that will help to survive the coming calamity.  I suppose if this had been written in a tongue in cheek manner, it wouldn’t be so odd.  It wasn’t and that begs the question, WHY????

I really enjoy the television show “The Walking Dead,” but that does not mean that I live in fear of a zombie herd coming my way and eating my family and friends.  I enjoy the Night of the Living Dead movies, however I do not spend time worrying that zombies will eat the brains of the police who show up and then request more backup officers on the radio.  Simply silly is the notion that we should live in fear of something that does not exist.

Then there is the more recent news of the Zombie Bees in Washington State.  It seems that there is a parasitic fly that will lay its eggs on the abdomen of honey bees.  When this happens, in a matter of time, the honey bees will leave the hive in a zombie like state, flying aimlessly and bumping into things eventually dying.  Of all the names they could have come up with to describe the bees in question and they had to use Zombies.

Does it seem like the term Zombies is being used superfluously?  I believe it is and I believe there is a reason for it.  The reason is that the more a term is used, the more people hear that term and the more they simply stop paying attention to it.  You know, the way your teenager chooses not to hear you when you yell at her to get her chores done.  The way your husband tunes you out when you are yelling about how he put a red sweater in with the whites.  All they hear is blah, blah, blah.  Now when you hear the word zombie, you pretty much ignore it.  More than that, when you hear zombie apocalypse, you just go on your merry way.  You have been conditioned not to react to something that may be dire.

I do not believe that a zombie apocalypse will take place.  I do however believe that in the coming years, we may see the failure of our economic system.  Think for a moment of the implications.  Millions of people will be cut off from their Social Security, Disability, Welfare, Food Stamps and all other types of government funded programs.  What do you think will happen?  It will not be the living dead.  It will be the living who simply will kill for what they want, need or desire.  The worst in people will be exhibited and that is what is meant by a zombie apocalypse.  We are the zombies.

You and I most likely will not fall into the category of zombie, however what about your neighbor or your friend, who has not prepared for any type of hardship?  Unfortunately they are zombies.  In my opinion, when the CDC issued that article, they were making light of what could be a dire situation.  They were trying to appeal to a certain group of people.  They also threw up a big red flag at the same time.  The flag says, you are a zombie and we know it!  Keep moving along, there is nothing to see here!  Nothing to see indeed!

The zombie phenomenon is not that unlikely, you just need to see it for what it is.  It is a way of programming our minds to ignore something, because it simply seems so outrageous.  The zombies are not undead.  They are very much living.  They are your friends, your neighbors and people that you love and care about.  They do not prepare, they do not garden.  They don’t know how to filter water, siphon a gas tank, grow a potato or make their own medicine.  The zombies are real, they are right under our noses, and they may one day be coming for you!  Don’t ignore them or they might eat your brains!

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