No monster better encapsulates the fears of the twenty-first century than the zombie. We're not afraid of the half-animal half-man that preys on us from the impenetrable forest, otherwise we'd have 'Werewolf Week' on the Discovery channel. Vampires too are no longer the foreign nocturnal monsters who seduce and steal our women away, now they sparkle, take our daughters to prom and marry them before 'biting' them and having a family. These classic monsters don't scare us anymore, but the zombie does.
In the world in which we live, where swine flu breaks out and takes over the world, the idea of plague still scares us. We see the fruits of extremism, where suicide bombers mindlessly seek destruction. Consumerism is rampant, people sell and are sold 'stuff' in an effort to find happiness. Things move so fast that people don't have time to stop and think where this is all going. In our post-God society we see humanity as just an animal, a documented lump of interconnected biology, a brain whose inter-workings are no longer a mystery, we're nothing more than evolutionary instinct. We're mastered by our DNA, scientifically destined for death and decay, humans are not greater than the sum of their parts. Never has man's opinion of himself been smaller than in our age and it scares us deeply. Hence the rise of the zombie's popularity; the zombie is a perfect metaphor for our twenty-first century fears.
The philosopher Socrates said that the unexamined life is not worth living. The truth is that living the 'unexamined life' in a kind of non-living. If we go through life a slave to our desires but never consider ourselves or this life and rise above the din of human routine, then we are a kind of zombie. We can change though. We can master our basest desires rather than being mastered by them. I love zombies because they remind me of what not to be. Man has a spirit, a part of himself that rises above the material plane. I believe firmly in what Shakespeare wrote about mankind:
“What a piece of work is a man, how noble in reason, how infinite in faculties, in form and moving how express and admirable, in action how like an angel, in apprehension how like a god!”Everyone has the potential to be more than just a zombie.