The Walking Dead: Humanity and Survival

Negan's compound. The Walking Dead. AMC.
Negan's compound. The Walking Dead. AMC. /

When considering the theme of humanity on The Walking Dead, If losing your humanity is a necessity for survival, are you really surviving?

"Survive: to continue to live; to get along or remain healthy, happy, and unaffected in spite of some occurrence; to endure or live through (an affliction, adversity, misery, etc.) (Via"

We call our group on The Walking Dead survivors. They are indeed alive and have lived through and endured huge adversity and misery. They continue to live. But are they healthy, happy and unaffected? That remains to be seen.

The event is not over. They are still surviving and enduring. They have not survived the apocalypse. They are surviving it. There was a line in the movie The 5th Wave about how the “Others” were going about wiping out the people on Earth in order to take it over.

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The girl posited, “How do you rid the Earth of humans? Rid the humans of their humanity.” In the zombie apocalypse we don’t know that anyone or anything is behind getting rid of the humans, but we do know that the zombies have been stripped of their human-ness, and because of the existence of the zombies, the remaining humans seem to be losing some of theirs as well.

As an audience, we are quick to excuse the shift in morality as expected. It’s a survival mechanism. Those who can’t kill are killed. At first it was those afraid of the walkers. They were seen as weak. They need to toughen up. Butch up and kill those walkers. Become a bad ass zombie slayer or become zombie bait.

Then there were bad people. We had to stretch our thinking. There’s no law enforcement to help us so we have to take care of these bad guys ourselves. We’ve seen some of the worst kinds of things and we’ve been burned by people we’ve let go and who’ve come back to torture us.

Maggie Greene and Carol Peletier - The Walking Dead, AMC
Maggie Greene and Carol Peletier – The Walking Dead, AMC /

Now we have to decide if we need to strike first before those people have a chance. But what happens when we make mistakes on our judgment? What happens when the bad people become too powerful for us to dispatch?

What happens when we get tired of it? Are we no longer survivors? I don’t know the answer. I’m just wondering. People seem scared for Carol because she seems like she’s feeling the weight of what she’s had to do to survive. I’m scared that if she dies, people will blame it on her humanity.

They will say she needed to stay tough and not let the guilt and weakness in. But is that a way to live? Maybe it is until things are all over. I don’t know. But then who do you root for to survive?

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People hate Morgan after years of loving him because he won’t kill. People love Gabriel after years of hating him because he did. I don’t think it’s the killing that people are cheering for, but the survival. Recently, Sam was on the receiving end of some mean comments.

People wanted him to die, I don’t really think people want a little kid to die. I think they wish he learned to survive better. They were afraid he might be the cause of the deaths of other people so that fear manifested in frustration with the kid.

Have you ever seen a parent yell at child who ran into traffic? They aren’t really mad at the child. They are scared to death. They thought that child might have been hurt. They have a flood of emotions with nowhere to direct them so they direct them at their source.

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Maybe that’s the answer. People don’t really want our survivors to lose their humanity and not feel or have compassion. They know that Morgan is a good person who just doesn’t like the killing, but they don’t want people to die because of him.

We just don’t want the people we love to die. So anything that gets in the way of that is a threat, whether it’s cowardice, humanity, lack of fighting skills, poor decisions, other people’s poor decisions, walkers, or enemies.

Maybe it’s just that simple. We don’t want the people we love to die.