Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Kill Them. Kill Them All.

Zombies want brains.
Zombies want my brain.
Zombies want my baby's brain.
Kill them.
Kill them all.
After all, they are just zombies.

Read the signs! They are here!
Pretend, for a moment, that the fictional but funly imagined Zombie Apocalypse has come. You have your shotgun. You know how to double-tap. Your chainsaw is well oiled and you've got plenty of gas. You're a fast draw and a faster runner and these are slow zombies.  Not the zombies from 28 Days Later, or The Dawn of the Dead.  These are zombies who shuffle along, whose fastest movement is slower than a Sunday stroll.

Our imagined zombies are just about totally independent from physical needs or wants of any sort. They do not eat for energy.  They eat just because it is what they do.

 Our zombies feel no pain. They have less mind than a slug, but more mind than a tree. They can open doors by accident, but ladders stop them cold.  Zombies are mostly not there at all, otherwise they wouldn't be zombies!

Zombie's Existentially

A good read.
Zombies are infectious. Their bite can make you become a zombie too, if they do not eat your brains first. According to “The Zombie Survival Guide” zombies became zombies because of a virus called solanum. Typically zombies are given an origin resulting from a virus or biological organism, disease, or some other source of physical damage. 

Zombies do not choose to be zombies, it just happens to them. Like cancer or the measles, there is no intent, there is no choice in getting the zombie sickness. You might want to say that “they could have tried harder to avoid it”. Try telling that to your eight year old boy picking his nose in the corner. Or your eighty-eight year old grandma drooling in her mid-day nap for that matter.

Many of us will just kill the zombies. The basic logic goes something like this; “They can infect me.  We will protect ourselves.  Zombies must die.” The desire for self defense is strong in we humans, especially when it comes to those we identify with as family.

After a little consideration you may well notice that when we take this view, we tend to say the word 'kill' rather than 'murder'. I kill the chicken for my diner, I do not murder it. Yet to the chicken and the zombie, our intent in murder or killing doesn't matter. It should matter to us.  Very much!

Animals slaughtered by necessity.
If we consider the zombies as humans with a terminal disease, then the word 'kill' gets a little bit harder to justify. If the zombie was your nice uncle Ralph, or the sweet old man next door who sometimes shovels your sidewalk when it snows, it would feel like 'murder'.  Even if you try to think you are doing them a favor. Have you ever heard of someone putting a clause in their will that says “If I become a zombie, please kill me.”? 

The threat that zombies pose is from instinct and not intent. How can we judge a zombie's character when they are obviously, and literally, dumber than door knobs? This reduction of the zombies brain to something less than human may give hope to the would-be-zombie killer to find some moral justification in their pursuit to eliminate zombies violently. To whit we must then ask; "Do zombies have a soul?"

Soul Brothers and Sisters?

Spirits in the world.
If you believe in dualism, that humans have an immortal soul, a separate from the body piece of the universe that makes up your mind or spirit, then you must ask "Does the soul still inhabit the body of a zombie?"

Consider for a moment a person in a vegetative state like a coma. Do they still have a soul? If you can answer 'yes' to the presence of a soul, then morality well may push you to save the zombies soul, to care for it, to make it at peace. We, as the superior mind, have a responsibility to care for those less fortunate; for shouldn't a person and even a society be judged for how it cares for the least of its souls?  Run like hell from the zombies. Build a barricade to hide behind, quarantine all the zombies in a pit, but do not under any circumstances kill them, for it is murder plain and simple.

Destroying barrels was fun!
On the other hand, the dualist who thinks the zombie's soul has already left their body can chain-saw away at will. Since zombies are just inanimate matter like a brick, the word 'kill' does not even apply. Zombies are already dead. In fact, it is good and proper to take pleasure killing zombies.
I would recommend whistling while you work at your de-zombification.  Singing an old chain gang song like “De Camptown Races” would be a wonderful way to spend an afternoon with friends while slicing and slashing and double-tapping; doing your duty for your fellow man.

Empirically Void?

The inventor of utilitarianism
looks a bit like a zombie.
What though, if you believe the there is no soul, but rather that the mind is emergent from the body? Your monist philosophy would dictate a different kind of assessment on the morality of whacking and hacking at the zombie critters. Thoughts on morality here fall into two camps; consequence and categorical.

The consequence, or sometimes called utilitarian, view is that questions about morality should be looked at in terms of what would be the greatest good. How do we help the most people? The consequence moralist would ask the question “If I terminate the zombies existence will it benefit more people?” Since clearly one zombie can infect many non-zombies, the zombie has got to go. With haste! The sum of the people saved must be greater than the sum of the people hurt. As long as I am saving non-zombie lives, its good and proper to grind zombie flesh.

If however, you think the golden rule should apply, then you would be taking the categorical idea and ask the question “If I became a zombie would I want someone to kill me?” Your answer to this question becomes the moral basis for whacking or running, double-tapping or containing. If you found yourself with a group of survivors, using logic and reason you would try to figure out together what is the group's view was. You would consider together what should be done if any of you became zombies. This would allow you to have the basis of law and order, probably on democratic terms about which zombies should be taken out.

Ummm.... Ooohhhmmm?

Lastly, a view from eastern philosophy.  The Buddhist tradition would absolutely forbid killing zombies.  This thought stream holds that killing is always a wrong thing to do.  The Buddha is said to have avoided killing any living creature, mosquito, ox, or human.  It is written in the Dhammapada "Everyone fears punishment; everyone fears death, just as you do. Therefore do not kill or cause to kill."

Would Buddha have survived the zombie invasion?  We may never know, but I rather doubt it, unless an impregnable fortress could be built to protect all non-zombie life.

Just Kill'em!

I do not know about what you would do, but I can speak for myself.

If come the zombie apocalypse and it is between a zombie or me, I would with great effort and little forethought be sure to separate its brain from its body.

 I'll shake them and break them nary pause to ask “is it right" or "is it wrong” or even “is there a better way”because...

Dad' gum' it! Im'a protect me and mine! Honey, wars the double-barrel? Git me dat der hatchet!  

And Kill Them!  Kill Them All!

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