The Allegory Of The Zombie Apocalypse
Maybe we spent a lot of time trying to convince ourselves the laws of nature didn't apply. Right. If you believe in the right things, ate the right things, wear a goddamn seat belt, you'd be safe. Yeah. Nobody was.
(Season 2, Episode 5 - Fear The Walking Dead)
I am a fan of the show The Walking Dead and its spin-off Fear The Walking Dead. Allegorically, both shows remind me of Williams Golding's novel Lord Of The Flies and the tension between living in harmony with civilization and the individuals will to power or what I think of as primal impulses. As Freud pointed out, we have a very difficult time reconciling our instincts with the expectations of culture and the result is often a neurotic tendency toward self-destruction at the cost of "fitting in".
A student and friend asked a question on Facebook recently - I paraphrase but essentially the question was - are principles really limitations. A great question since it strikes directly at the heart of how we live our lives. Speaking for myself, I believe, now more than ever, many if not most people are living their lives according to some set of principles or rules or guidelines. Maybe they are obvious rules like those spelled out in the dogma of religion or twelve step programs or maybe they are less codified but equally stringent like those related to status and social class. I also believe (actually I know) many if not most of these people are deeply unhappy and unsatisfied in their lives. It is tragic when you look around and see so many people neurotically focusing on...keeping it together, following the rules, playing along...all the while rotting from the inside out. I know how it feels and what it looks like to move through life like a zombie. Despite parents and mentors and teachers reminding me and showing me the folly of believing "rules matter", I became one of those empty people...for awhile. I wanted to believe it was safer to color inside the lines than it was to create your own drawing. Maybe it is safer and perhaps for some people it really works...nah, honestly, I doubt it. I see contemporary culture made up of lonely people desperately trying to avoid being with themselves...because for many there is a misalignment between their internal symbolic language, their inner desires and cultural norms. The result, allegorically speaking, is a culture of walking dead.
Below is my response to the Facebook post:
So, first I would say there are no rules except the ones we set for ourselves and I mean this literally. Even our internal value system is a choice. For this reason, I would argue...YES. Principles are essentially limitations and while there is absolutely nothing wrong with drawing lines and boundaries around ones experience, more often than not people have principles out of fear. Fear of failure, fear of success, fear of being socially unacceptable or alone, fear of pleasure, fear of pain...the list is long and winding. An interesting thought experiment, along these lines, is to ask the question "would you murder someone?" Most people would answer no...and yet we are perfectly comfortable paying our government to recruit, train and deploy our youth to kill on our behalf. When our warriors return to us, having witnessed and often participated in something we deem abhorrent, we have no context for understanding, no way of empathizing. Instead we pathologize our soldiers and question their inability to mesh with "normal" society. ...which essentially is our way of maintaining our principles. People honestly believe that IF they follow the rules, they will be safe...and they will trade a great deal to maintain this illusion of safety (including their own mental and physical health). They will also attempt to impose their rules on others and argue it is "for the best". I am here to tell you, do what YOU want to do, follow YOUR heart and forget about principles. Life is an experiment and there are absolutely no guarantees - NONE - except that we are awake now and at some point we will be dead. Set yourself free to live, to love, to be heartbroken, to soar, to fail, to experiment and most importantly to plum the depth of your own soul. Tell the people with principles to fu$k off.
In closing, I would ask you, the reader, to examine your own experience...maybe, like me, you believed you would be "safe" if you walked the line, followed the path, became successful. Maybe it is working for you...today...but are you willing to live the rest of your life bargaining against the laws of nature for the mediocrity of contemporary culture?