We’ve all heard the joke:
Today’s young people are better prepared for a zombie apocalypse than they are for “real life.”
Well, thank god for that.
As we have seen, are seeing, will see, the world is an increasingly baffling and hellacious place. Human sacrifice? Check. Dogs and cats living together? Check. Mass hysteria? …Oh, shit, you guys. It’s official.
Houston, we have apocalypse.
Of course, I jest. It’s my favorite coping mechanism. But let’s get real (ish) for a sec. No one can argue that this year has been like a dry run for Satan’s second coming. (Or is it the first? Seventh? I haven’t finished binge-watching every season of “Supernatural” yet, so please, no spoilers.) From the ongoing tire fire that is Brexit, to the abandoned Burning Man port-a-potty that is the alt-right movement, to the sudden peacing out of a metric f**kton of our favorite celebrities, to the actual–now literal; thank you Donald Trump and Steve Bannon–Shit Show that is this year’s election…2016 is the most apocalypse-adjacent reality I have had the pleasure of experiencing. And I don’t think I’m alone in this. (In fact, in the words of High School Musical, “We’re all in this together, you selfish motherf***ers.” Or something.)
For those of you who are still in denial that the world is ending (a popular life choice these days; #NoJudgement, Judy from Facebook), don’t worry. We, the Millennials, have got your back. Or, at the very least, we’ve got a comedically-timed bitch slap of reality with your name on it.
So here it is, future casualties and survivors. The truth bomb you’ve been dreading (and we’ve been preparing for) for as long as we can remember:
IT’S THE END OF THE WORLD AS WE KNOW IT.
Still struggling with that whole denial thing? Ah, it’s okay Judy. If it makes you feel better, you can keep pretending I’m talking about “The Walking Dead” on AMC 9/8c–#NotMyWinchester. Personally, I’m a big fan of that one line from the Bible (?) “…and the truth shall set you free.” So.
Here’s what’s true in the case of post-apocalyptic drama (and also–incidentally–true today):
Here’s what we know WILL help:
Cardio. Because, realistically, fatties will be the first to go. And I’m not just talking about physical fatness. If you were waiting on New Years, swimsuit season, 2020, or your next high school reunion to lose whatever is bogging you down in life and/or cramping your style…maybe stop waiting. Like, do it now. Right now. Today. Because here’s the thing about an oncoming apocalypse: it waits for no one. So lets write down our goals, schedule those appointments, double-knot our shoelaces, and get our asses in gear. Start doing every day what you want to be doing next week, next year, ten years from now. Start today, and do a little more each day than you think you can. This is not a drill. We’re training for the Shit Show Olympics.
Being All You Can Be. As an extension to above, the best hope you have in the world is to be your best self. Take a power nap. Get a snack. Stretch–physically, mentally, socially. But also be honest with yourself. Don’t allow yourself to believe that just because others aren’t doing as much, as well, as fast, etc. as you are, that means you can relax. With great power comes great responsibility. Sure, but power is obvious. IMO, with great potential comes an even greater responsibility. The thing is, only you know what you’re truly capable of. I believe in you, but I can’t tell you where your greatness truly lies. That’s your own damn job.
Working together, even when it seems like you could be better off going it alone. I mean, I get it. Making friends in an apocalypse is hard. Someone stole your favorite shoes and lit them on fire, for seemingly no reason. Your best friend called you racist. Suddenly, your wife gets more upset than she used to, when you treat her like a second-class citizen. Even though you personally may have done nothing to deserve this reaction. (Spoiler alert though: you probably did do something to deserve it, at some point.) Doesn’t matter. Getting butt hurt is pre-apocalypse. Come together over shared world goals and basic human survival, if you want to live.
Guns are a dumb weapon. They attract the zombies, and in the wrong hands, you could lose a finger. God forbid, more than a finger. Also, haven’t you always really wanted a sweet ass katana anyway? Yes, you have.
Zombies are not Nazis. Granted, due to some crazy off-the-book experiments, there may have actually been some zombie Nazis. And yes, that would make a totally kick ass movie. But let’s stop a) comparing modern times 100% to pre-Nazi Germany, or b) calling people we don’t agree with Nazis, or c) equating idiot orange Buff Puff headed bigots to historical landing strip mustached bigots. Because: a) it’s not the same–we have the internet now, which massivelyshakes up the global and geopolitical climate, not to mention speeding up the time table for potentially beneficial and/or catastrophic changes in world view, b) you really can’t fight hate with hate; also, a lot of people’s Bubbies are already FTFO right now–stop making it worse! Think of their blood pressure! c) Trump is a symptom of our time, our vices, our secret shame. We created him. If you try to destroy him, another Stay Puft hate mogul will just rise up in his place. Also, VIP: there is no equivalent to America (back then) that’s going to step in with a huge army of Elvis types to help us defeat him (even if Justin Trudeau looks a bit like Captain America, that’s just wishful thinking.) The only way to defeat Trump is to starve him out. The only way to do that is to stop feeding the zombies our time, talents, brains, etc. Take that brain and invent something instead, like a solution to save humanity.
The Cure Doesn’t Happen Overnight. Also, it won’t help us if we’re all dead, because we killed each other fighting over resources, petty slights, or the moral high ground. I firmly believe that every person–even people who were temporarily infected by zombie madness or human selfishness–can be saved, if we’re creative enough. And if we work on having more discussions (figuring out WHAT is right) vs. arguments (figuring out WHO is right).
Knowing When to Walk Away / Save Yourself. A cadaverous caveat to above: trying to save other people from being zombies should NOT come at the expense of your own safety. We’ve all seen the movies, the shows, and some of us have even read the books. There’s always that person (usually a woman-again, -f*** you and your cruelly accurate stereotypes again, Hollywood) who refuses to abandon a loved one that has gone full zombie, at her own peril. Inevitably, if she doesn’t create a safe distance between herself and the infected, that tender-hearted lady falls victim to its poison. Even though she had the best intentions, even though she was just trying to be a good wife/mother/sister/coworker/significant whatever. Kindness is important, yes, Jane Dogooder (not to be confused with Judy Facebook). But so is survival. You don’t have to hug a toxic person, or tell them it’s okay to be a zombie, even as they’re eating the faces of your friends.
Creating vs. Destroying. As I mentioned above, looting and/or razing shit to the ground for its own sake is not helpful. You may feel a momentary sense of godlike satisfaction after laying waste to a Bed, Bath & Beyond (because f*** that place)–but seriously, why? You’re just creating one less safe space for someone else to hide in when they need shelter from the zombies, or a quiet place to regroup between battles. Unless you need it for firewood or it’s actively blocking you from escaping the carnage, leave it standing for the future, why don’t you? What I’m saying is, DON’T knock other people’s coping mechanisms, or burn their comfortable little hovels to the ground, just because you think they need to feel just how bad things really are. DON’T just f*** the world up; f*** the world upward. (BTW: Judy, I’m sorry for using the f-word so much. You can block me if you want, because I’m not going to stop saying it for a while.) DO try to see things from another point of view, just to make sure you’re not guilty of the same mindset the zombies have. DO set a good example so they’ll see there’s a better way. DO try to shed light, instead of blood.
*Author’s note: I edited the word “fuck” out of this post, because for some reason certain people (aheh, Judy) find asterisks less offensive than the letters U-C-K. Fuck if I understand why.
Entitlement is a funny thing. Hard to recognize, especially in ourselves. Difficult to escape.
It’s not just a mindset we develop during our best times. Not only a set of behaviors adopted out of carelessness. For some, it’s like a religion, or an inheritance. A way of life passed down from father to son. Some marry into it. Some spend their lives trying to get away from it, only managing to trade it for a different type.
In this country, entitlement wears many faces. It can be the wolf in tailored designer wool, prowling the floors of Wall Street. A college student who worries about debt while partying with their friends on a weekend’s worth of tips, because rent is covered and they have no one else to feed. The public school teacher who skips classroom prep, because most of her students probably won’t take advantage of their education anyway. The congressman on his fortieth year of tenure, who considers the suggestions of lobbyists as a normal part of balancing his obligation to the people against the financial demands of his lifestyle. The journalist who doesn’t check his sources, who fabricates a story, knowing people will believe whatever he tells them. The rapist who argues that his victim’s dress spoke for itself.
The best way I can explain the feeling of entitlement, to someone who hasn’t given much thought to this topic before, is what happens when you attend a party.
How secure do you feel, when you walk into the room? Maybe you’re personal friends with the host, maybe not. Maybe you’ve been there a ton of times before, and you know your way around. Maybe you’re on a first name basis with everyone in the room, or maybe you’ve never met a single person. Is your clothing appropriate for the occasion? Did you have sufficient time to get ready? Are you looking your best, or having a bad hair day? Does the host’s mother like you? Maybe you’re co-hosting the party, helped pay for it, or worked hard to decorate it. But it’s still not your party–not really. How comfortable you feel in that party setting is entirely based on how entitled you are to be there. If you feel like you deserve to belong, whether people accept you as one of their own, or not. It’s a double edged sword, because you often have no control over the reception you get. But you also tacitly accept treatment according to what you feel you deserve. And what’s worse, you tend to exclude based on that feeling, treating others who are less (or just differently) entitled as Less Than. Less familiar. Less special. Less welcome.
Why does this happen, in the party that is our society? When did contributing to the party make you less–instead of more–obligated to treat every guest with kindness and respect? How did “great power” somehow come to mean “less responsibility,” instead of greater?
Though it’s not always directly, obviously, or immediately harmful, entitlement slowly blunts our ability to empathize with others. It blinds us to their motives, their dreams and desires, turning them into a faceless and inhuman Them. Turning us into Us, a club of fellow similarly entitled people whose motives are always unquestionably above reproach.
Simple and effective, these degrees of entitlement remove complications when deciding the following questions: Which stranger will you most likely get along with? Who can you trust? Who would you hire? Whose children should be allowed to play with your children?
Who deserves a vote? Who deserves freedom? Who deserves to live?
Entitlement is a funny thing. A dangerous, selfish, near-sighted thing. If we aren’t careful, it will blind us, and we will fall.
Writer. Agent. Lover of wine and smelly cheeses. Solver of problems. Drinker of coffee. Champion of real life HEAs.