No Zombies Allowed

Below is Whisper #25 from my latest book, 48 WHISPERS, which is a collection of photographs and personal meditations created across a decade of travel to the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation and the surrounding northern plains. 

I have been at Pine Ridge many times in late October. Halloween gatherings are organized in most communities across the reservation. Zombie-themed events are common and well attended, which always causes me to pause and reflect.

Why are zombie movies and television series so popular? I find these types of shows exceptionally predictable. No matter how many zombies you kill today, the horde returns for you tomorrow. The zombies themselves are dressed alike, cloaked in gray and indistinguishable. Why the fascination? Perhaps, deep down, we are all a bit afraid of becoming one.

A fictional Haitian and Creole creation, zombies unite en masse to form a mindless, monolithic, and inexhaustible army of destruction. The zombie is numb to independent thinking and incapable of feeling either joy or pain. Instinctively each zombie follows the group regardless of the destination or cause. Thirsty for blood, they attack without remembering why.

The Internet, social media, 24/7 news coverage, political divides, consumption-driven marketing, and the momentum of group thinking have the collective capacity to create a hypnotic buzz that numbs the senses and turns dialogue into a zombie trance–like monologue. We find ourselves talking without thinking or listening.

Awake, alert, and autonomous are the requirements that a sustained free society demands of us all. It’s easy to follow, find, and target an enemy across the way and heap our problems upon them. But keep in mind that zombies rarely change their own condition by sacking and pillaging the lives of others.