Panic is surely to arise when the dead finally reanimate! Think about it. They have a hunger for human flesh, no heartbeat, hardly have a brain, can’t speak, move slowly, are easy to take out individually or in small groups… yeah. It’s not really all that scary unless you’re cornered or are facing hoardes. If you’re anyone with a decent brain capacity, you can avoid situations like that. The thing we should really fear is ourselves, as human beings. It’s impossible to ignore that most people on this planet resort to panicking when unusual situations arise. This fact is dug up and made clear in Max Brooks’ World War Z: The threat of a zombie apocalypse isn’t what we should be fearful of, but, ironically, the consequences of the actions motivated by human fear.
Max Brooks uses current social issues to prove this point. It seems like in our society, we think the first answer to a health issue is pills. I can’t tell you how many people I’ve heard say “I have [insert health issue here]… I should go to the doctor… they could give me something” referring to something as a prescription medication, and not something like, a clean bill of health because there’s probably nothing wrong with you having a headache for five minutes. Though the threat of the “weird strain of jungle rabies” (Brooks, 56). later known as the zombie virus was very real, people turned to a drug called Phalanx that they thought would work, but was never proven to work for the virus in specific. Breckinridge Scott brings up a flaw in society that he took advantage of: “[Phalanx] protected [people] from their fears. That’s what I was selling” (Brooks, 58). But this isn’t a flaw that only Scott took advantage of–it’s a flaw that pharmaceutical companies take advantage of every day. People believe that there’s a special medicine that will make everything better. You have chronic migraines? Don’t worry about the fact that you have unhealthy eating, drinking, and exercise habits, here are some painkillers. Your child is swinging her legs under the table in the exam room? They must have ADHD, let me write a prescription without any other proof of that diagnosis. Though Phalanx was a vaccine, people fled to get it as soon as possible because they felt relief in the idea of protection. They panicked when they thought they could get this “rabies” virus, and went to get the vaccine, likely without further research. This is dangerous because it shows that human beings naturally go for the quickest and easiest way to solving their problems and fears. Who knows what they would do in a life-threatening situation?
There are many answers to that question, but an example about how extreme these answers can get is suicide. Overreactions to fear include completely giving up or giving in. When Colonel Christina Eliopolis discovers an abandoned SUV, with the driver inside, dead from a bullet wound to the head–suicide. She claims that “This guy had had everything he needed to survive, everything except the will. I know that’s supposition. Maybe there was a wound I couldn’t see, hidden by his clothes or the advanced decomposition. But I knew it, leaning there with my face against the glass, looking at this monument to how easy it was to give up” (Brooks, 179). The man in the vehicle had enough gear to survive for a very long time, but instead chose to “take the easy way out”, give up. To reiterate: these zombies are not a huge threat unless they’re cornering you, or they are traveling in hordes. But still, this person decided to end their own life to avoid the problems that could possibly be faced ahead. Our mental stability is a huge factor when considering the fact that we should be afraid of ourselves..
Not only does mental stability play a role in self-danger, but it also plays a role in the safety of the people and things around you. ESPECIALLY if you’re selfish. My favorite example of this is about a man who thinks whales are the ones who actually lost World War Z. No, really. He describes them as majestic and innocent–that they were no longer afraid of us, and were nice to us, despite their huge capability to kill. But even then, they were still killed (by human survivors) for food. Michael Choi, whale lover, claims “So the next time someone tries to tell you about how the true losses of this war are “our innocence” and “part of our humanity”… Whatever, bro. Tell it to the whales” (Brooks, 341). Brooks’ purpose for this section is to bring out the point that not only are we being destructive to ourselves, but to our environment as well. Fear drives us to go out to the ocean to get away from the oh-so-scary zombies, and are left with no other way to get food other than hunt oceanlife. Ignore the fact that it’s pretty much easy to stay home, have a little better security, and plant crops at home. Let’s bring all the whales to extinction. In an ironic way, this can also prove that we did lose our innocence and humanity. The human race’s selfishness is what brought the whales to their deathbed. Which is also what we’re doing right now, minus the zombies. We’re polluting our oceans, drilling for oil, improperly disposing of our garbage, and some people have the gall to hunt for whales for smaller and dumber reasons than for food. The first thing to come across a human’s mind is: “How can I make [insert task, or problem here] easier for me?” And if it means throwing a candy wrapper into a river two feet away instead of a garbage can twenty feet away, that’s all it takes. I mean. The other day I accidentally stuck my hand in fresh gum trying to scoot my desk over.
If we can’t go the extra mile, or… twelve inches… we definitely can’t keep ourselves safe. We fear anything that requires extra work. We aren’t lazy. We fear doing a little more work than what’s necessary. That’s what we need to be afraid of.
Unless we change the way we live, away from living in fear, we will not change. Max Brooks shouldn’t be the one to tell you that. Well, no one should have to tell you that. It’s ironic that we fear death, but fear also leads ourselves to it. How to solve this? Stop being afraid of being a decent minded human being. Stop being afraid of anything less than healthiness. And most of all, stop being afraid of living.
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