If there was one message to take from this week’s episode of The Walking Dead it was that survival means nothing if you lose your humanity.
The requirements for surviving a zombie apocalypse are simple to understand: Stay fed, hydrated, warm; Avoid zombies and grievous injury. Simple.
Staying human, though? That is difficult, and, if you can’t, surviving doesn’t mean a damned thing.
If you start losing things like compassion, empathy, forgiveness, or love, you become something less like a person, and more like a monster. Let’s look at this week’s The Walking Dead to get a better idea of what I mean.
Ever since he discovered that Jared was a soldier at the radar station in “The Damned”, Morgan has been dead-set on killing him.
It’s understandable: Jared killed Morgan’s surrogate son, Benjamin, in a blatant act of malice. If I were Morgan, I’d probably do the same thing.
However, as much as you may hate a person in a zombie apocalypse, you can’t just go around murdering them if they’ve surrendered.
History is littered with tales of the barbarity seen in war, and while what’s seen in combat can be atrocious, often the most cruel are people who mistreat or kill those they’ve captured in the waging of war. To kill people who have surrendered their weapons in lieu of massacre is no different than slaughtering civilians: Both are killing people who have no means of defending themselves.
In the same vein is killing people when you really don’t have to. Case in point: Daryl killing Morales, Todd, and, while we’re at it, Fat Joey.
All three of these guys, Daryl killed with little to no reason. Of the three of them, Morales was the most threatening, but, even then, to say Daryl had to kill him would be a stretch.
If you’re wondering why this is a problem, well, look at it this way: How is Daryl killing those three any different than Negan killing Glenn, Abraham, or Spencer?
I’m sure you might argue “Yeah, but, the guys Daryl killed were Saviors. If he didn’t, they could come back and kill more people!“. While this may be true, honestly, Negan could have made the same argument about, at least, Glenn and Abraham. Looking at it from Negan’s perspective, Glenn and Abraham were soldiers for Rick, who’d killed God only knows how many of his troops already! To The Saviors, they were dangerous killers!
Either way you slice it, people died when they were not a threat. How many times do you have to do that before you realize that’s a problem?
Speaking of comparing members of Rick’s Group to hostiles, did you notice how much the phrase “We’re the same” was thrown around? I did.
Between Morales saying that he and Rick were no different, and Morgan telling Jesus The Alliance was the same as The Saviors, the comparison seemed all over the place.
In both cases, the comparison stemmed from Morales/Morgan claiming their groups did whatever it took to win and survive. Of course, it also hinged, at least a little bit, on the notion that they’ve become this way because of what they’ve lost, or in response to the actions of others.
That kind of reminds me of something…
Way back in the Season Five’s “No Sanctuary”, as The Group escaped Terminus, Rick and Glenn released a fellow prisoner. It would turn out this man was the leader of the hostiles who had attacked Terminus.
Months of torment at the hands of The Crazy Guy’s group inspired a new philosophy in the people of Terminus. That philosophy? You’re either the butcher…or the cattle. Following their liberation, they set upon a policy of cannibalism, luring innocent survivors to their lair to eat them.
After suffering under monsters for so long, the people of Terminus became monsters.
Oh, and what did The Crazy Guy say after Glenn freed him? “We’re the same.”
The point here? Just because you’re attacked by monsters doesn’t mean you should become monsters.
Ultimately, while you shouldn’t let yourself become cannon fodder for hostiles, you shouldn’t just throw out your humanity, either.
If you become someone you’d be afraid of, or wouldn’t even recognize, it’s time to take a step back. Survival is, obviously, extremely important, but, you can’t become little more than a savage or serial killer in the process.
If you lose your humanity, survival becomes worthless.
This is why you follow The Rules.
And that’s our survival rule of the week!! Hopefully, it will help you should you ever need it and give you that mental edge that will prove so crucial once the dead start eating everyone.
If you like this and want to find out more rules to survive the zombie apocalypse, why not pick up a copy of my book, The Rules: A Guide To Surviving The Zombie Apocalypse! You can get it on Kindle here and on iTunes here!