It seems to me that almost every day we getnews of some kind of threat that’s uncovered or highlighted in some fashion. We have learned, thanks to Wikileaks, that intelligence agencies apparently have the capability to “surveil” (that means to keep watch over a person, usually surreptitiously) folks who have smart phones or smart TV sets even when the devices are turned off . Kinda makes both the term and the concept of “wiretapping” as we have known it obsolete, doesn’t it? Then, too, there are new versions of identity theft and other scams in addition to the ever-present concern about those whose religious fanaticism drives them to violence.
Of some interest, however, is a yet another threat that has recently been officially identified by the Illinois legislature. State lawmakers want residents to be ready for a different kind of battle – against zombies. According to The Chicago Tribune, the Illinois state House approved a measure that would dub October of this year as “Zombie Preparedness Month.”
Yep, the official proclamation is full of “whereas’s”leading up to the resolution itself which reads: “… be it resolved, by the House of Representatives of the 100th General Assembly of the state of Illinois, that all Illinois residents are encouraged to participate in preparing for a Zombie Apocalypse, and have a plan that includes, signing up for local texts and weather alerts, developing emergency communications for the household, collecting significant documents and storing them in a safe place, and gathering emergency supplies. … and be it further resolved, That we designate October 2017 as “Zombie Preparedness Month” in the State of Illinois, and urge all Illinoisans to … take steps to create a stockpile of food, water, and other emergency supplies that can last up to 72 hours.” How about them apples?
Ok, so what is a “zombie” anyway and where and when did the term come about? Well, according to Wikipedia, the English word “zombie” is traced back to 1819 in a history of Brazil with its origin likely being West African. Numerous sources show that – particularly in Haitian folklore – a zombie is described as an “undead” being created by reanimating a corpse by means of magic or witchcraft, and usually for some evil purpose. The result is the body of a lifeless person exhibiting the semblance of consciousness , but is mute, has no will of its own, and is under the control of the individual responsible for its condition. This characterization gained considerable attention as the result of the occupation of Haiti by U S troops (1915-1934) when tales of zombies began to emerge into western culture.
One of the biggest endorsement of the concept was probably the 1932 movie “White Zombie” starring creepy Bela Lugosi. Other films, such as “ I Walked With a Zombie” and the 1968 “Night of the Living Dead” (which likely was more influential in promoting the concept of zombies than any previous work) continued to feed the Haitian tradition. In 2014 alone, some 55 films about zombies were released.
Today’s version of zombies differs considerably from that associated with the historical Haitian folklore. Their origin is not attributed to witchcraft but to some type of virus, gas, or contagious mutation resulting in a spreading outbreak of zombies hostile to human beings.
This, in turn, leads to the concept of a “zombie apocalypse” in which zombies threaten to overwhelm human civilization – and that is what the proclamation by the Illinois legislature addresses. I’m not sure what prompted this resolution – I kinda think it was just a fun thing to do by a legislature faced with very serious problems. One thing I did notice was no mention of defensive measures – perhaps they figured the firepower resident in Chicago is sufficient to counter any zombie incursion into their state.
Well, I don’t pretend to know anything about these “living dead” creatures, but there is another “zombie” I am aware of – a tall mixed drink consisting of several kinds of rum, liqueurs, and fruit juice. It’s likely to turn its consumer into “a rather lifeless person exhibiting the semblance of consciousness, but is mute, has no will of its own, and is under the control of the individual responsible for its condition” — as a number of young women have discovered to their regret. Anyway, to paraphrase an old bit of doggerel, “I’ve never seen a zombie/ and I hope I never see one/ but I can tell you here and now/ I’d rather see than be one.”
At least that’s how it seems to me.
Bill Taylor, a Greene County Daily columnist and area resident, may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.