TV’s ‘The Walking Dead’ & The Civil War

The Walking Dead (pic from

I know what you’re thinking: What does the television show The Walking Dead have to do with the Civil War? After all, isn’t it just a show about zombies in a post-apocalyptic world? Well, yes it’s about that for sure. But there’s more to it than that. Obviously, it’s a show about survival-human survival. As the series has revealed, there are humans living-or, at least, trying to stay alive in the world that is left to them. Once a living human is attacked by a zombie-they too become zombies-effectively ending their “normal” lives. That’s the basic storyline. But the series is much deeper than that. It’s the underlying issues that the show brings to bear that resonates back to a time in America when there was a Civil War.

The show, like the American Civil War addresses concerns about ethics, religious ideas, laws, and, simply, what it means to be human. Was a slave fully human? Some didn’t think so. Are the zombies portrayed on the show human-at all? What defines one as being human? Is it okay to kill a zombie? Is it killing a human-even when it was someone known-like a relative, friend, or spouse? Do the laws of the land still apply? Do moral laws still apply? Furthermore, both are about people finding themselves in situations they did not expect at all. Life can be that way. How is it that the North and the South were at war with each other in the Civil War? How is it that families split-and sometimes brother fought against brother? How is it that both sides claimed God was on their side? How is it that the American way of life was ripped apart like it was? How are people to act under such conditions? Certainly there is hardship and struggle. There is death. Abraham Lincoln concluded that the Civil War was the price that was paid for the sin of slavery. In The Walking Dead is there a “sin,” yet unrevealed, that brought about the destruction of the world and the zombies? Is humanity paying for something it did?

The United States of America survived the Civil War. The nation is one. Its people live on. I don’t know how the writers will conclude the storyline of the television show. Maybe the ending will never be shared. Maybe the writers just want viewers to grapple with the questions-the big questions-about life, ethics, laws, and morality. Some of those questions were never fully answered from the Civil War. Maybe they never will be.

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