I have just finished playing The Last Of Us, a post-apocalyptic zombie survival game where a sudden outbreak of a cordyceps-like infection ravages the US. The human hosts are turned into savage, monstrous killers and society as we know it collapses. The last of us (the uninfected) turn on each other in an attempt to survive the devastation, heavily militarized quarantine zones are set up to protect the vulnerable and outside of those zones, it is survival of the fittest.
It’s got me thinking about what will happen when something like this actually happens. Will we, as a species, really turn on each other? Will we resort to our basest instincts, abandon our humanity and try to survive at any cost?
If popular culture is any indication then we are most certainly doomed. Post-apocalypticism, as a genre, has never been more popular and in every case it’s hell-in-a-hand-basket with Man as the Monster. Invading aliens and vampires don’t scare us any more, its zombies, zombies, zombies… and that isn’t even entirely true – zombie, by definition, is the dead come back to life – this new threat is even more sinister… it’s us.
The things that scare us evolve as we evolve. In our modern day, heavily poisoned society – physically, psychologically, spiritually – is it any wonder that the new threat causing us to toss and turn at night is Man himself? From GMO’s to chemtrails, from pharmaseutical dependence to the spread of HIV/AIDS, from radical Islamic terrorism to a perceived abandonment of God, it’s all the same thing – something sinister is lurking and we need to be very afraid.
And it is not enough that “the infected” Man is a blood-thirsty, raving psychopath, hell-bent on your immediate destruction, the uninfected Man too will ultimately turn to barbarism and brutality to survive; make no mistake, he will step on your throat to get that last can of beans.
Have we really fallen this far down the rabbit-hole?
Man isn’t the monster, he just plays one on TV, and the power to alter this perception lies in each and every one of us. Whatever the issue du jour is, global warming, nuclear proliferation, gay marriage, or imminent economic collapse, we have the ability and the responsibility to change the narrative. If enough of us stand up and say, “just stop. I’m not buying your fear-based bullshit anymore” then things will change. If we turn off our televisions, learn to speak in a language they understand – with our pocketbooks – and become active participants in social reconstruction, we can effect positive change.
Yes, there are things happening on and too our planet that will kill us, but that doesn’t mean that we are doomed. “The infected” we’ve been taught to fear are our brothers and sisters, cousins, grandparents and friends, their commonality is their humanness, and that should bring us hope, not dread. I choose to believe in human nature, that when push comes to shove, we will not revert to our basest instinct of kill or be killed. Humankind is capable of such greatness and has proven time and again that when faced with adversity we will rise to the occasion, survive and thrive.
I get it, it’s not dramatic or suspenseful and probably won’t sell a lot of movie tickets or video games, but it’s better than the alternative, which is living in fear.