Ronald Leung / Silhouette Staff
If you read the last issue of IO, you already know the world has ended.
Human civilization has shattered, overcome by a legion of the walking dead. Pockets of survivors live miserably, scavenging for food and water, desecrating undead brains and avoiding the ever-present threat of a deadly bite from a set of decaying teeth. As despondently as the remaining humans live, this scenario creates the perfect storm for a whole new crop of ethical dilemmas to grow.
Before we continue, let me make it clear that I’m a pretty big fan of The Walking Dead. It’s a prime example of a zombie apocalypse television series that focuses on the moral consequences of the cataclysmic event and not just on the mindless muscle of re-killing shambling brain-hungry humans.
Picture this: you’re a country sheriff who miraculously survived the initial outbreak. After a couple days, you are reunited with your wife. After chopping off some zombie heads and ensuring you’re safe, you settle down and, in a wave of passion, get down and dirty with your wife. A couple of weeks later, she notices irregularities in her menstrual cycle. You raid the local abandoned pharmacy and find a pregnancy test. She’s pregnant. You’re happy, of course. But then you and your wife start talking. You also found some abortion medication at the pharmacy. Do you really want to bring a baby into this harsh life? What kind of existence is your baby looking forward to? A painful experience of constantly looking for the next meal, all the while dodging roaming hordes of zombies? Being eaten alive, organ by organ, in the hands of a crazed once-human? Never mind the lack of operational hospital equipment and conditions to deliver the baby (your wife would be giving birth like she was in the medieval times – in other words, a fairly hazardous experience). Never mind your existing views on abortion vs. pro-life. The world has changed. Your family and friends started eating each other and your old perspectives are not as relevant. Look into the eyes of your wife. What will the two of you decide?
It’s fairly easy to say that most of us currently have a moral code. We don’t kill. Would that still hold if the world went to hell and 95 per cent of us became zombies? Desperate times call for desperate measures. While many of us would understandably try to survive – regardless of the price – others would rise to the occasion and try to keep us all in line with a basic moral code and respect for other humans. After all, whoever is left would really be all that’s left of humanity. What if you found someone stealing from your camp of survivors? You decide to let him or her live, and weeks later they come back to steal again, mad from hunger. In the ensuring struggle, one of the members of your survivor camp is killed. Do you regret your original decision to let them go free? What if instead of stealing, they had accidentally killed someone in an accident? Would you still let them go free?
Clearly, there are no easy answers – even in a zombie apocalypse. It’s troubling, isn’t it? Not only do you have to worry about basic survival and cannibalistic dead humans, you also have to grapple with an ever-persistent moral code. Ah, C’est La Vie! (Even after La Vie.)