Will The Golden Rule Help You Survive a Zombie Apocalypse?

by Mariann E. Danko


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I recently came back from the “Magic Kingdom” and I can say, compared to my visit when my Son was 7, my experience was far from magical. This was not at the fault of the staff in the Magic Kingdom. To be honest, I feel for these poor people who try daily to create the “magical experience” Walt Disney wanted for all his guests, but our met with rude, inconsiderate and disrespectful guests, who are only concerned with their own gratification.

On any given day, we all experience the slow decay of common decency and respect for our fellow man, which in itself is a sad reflection of society overall. I had not however anticipated being confronted by this in a place that’s sole purpose is to bring joy and light heartedness to all who walk through the gates. If only Tinkerbell sprinkled “Remember the Golden Rule Fairy Dust” over everyone as they entered the Magic Kingdom’s gates. People were more courteous to each other going through security at the airport than in the Magic Kingdom.

It is this experience that made me start to wonder what type of personality would fair best in an apocalypse. The “it’s all about me” mentality that the bulk of society has become or, the one who is considerate of his fellow man and is conscious of the other persons needs as well as their own.

Needless to say I started to compare the characters of “The Walking Dead.” The first ones that came to mind were Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) and Meryl Dixon (Michael Rooker).

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Rick Grimes, Sheriff, Father and Friend, has tried hard to always consider the groups needs in addition to his families. He has had moments when he has made some bad decisions, especially this last season, but at the core of his decisions he is always looking at what’s best for the group. He is not of the “it’s all about me” mentality, which is why he has become the leader. He believes by working together they can find a way to survive the hellish world of the zombie apocalypse that has become their new reality.

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Meryl Dixon, on the other hand, (no pun intended) was the complete opposite of Rick. He was definitely an “all about me” kind of guy. Helping his fellow man was the furthest thing from his mind, unless it would benefit him in some way. In the apocalyptic world of “The Walking Dead” this behavior became amplified and he made more enemies than friends. He often toyed with his brother Daryl’s (Norman Reedus) emotions, playing the “we’re family” card, but his sole purpose was to try to gain an ally in whatever scheme he was running at the time. He was not actually looking out for his brother. He was the walking, talking epitome of the classic self-absorbed; I only care about my needs, the hell with everyone else mentality.

Although, in the end, he did have a bit of an epiphany and made an effort to reconcile his actions by letting Michonne (Danai Gurira) go and going after the Governor (David Morrissey), guns a blazing. Had he not burnt every bridge he crossed and joined forces with his brother and the rest of Rick’s group, they may have been able to put an end to the Governor’s merciless reign, but by going it alone, he had no chance of winning this battle. In the end, he was not a hero, just a sad pathetic loner abandoned by everyone.

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Another great comparison would be Gleen Rhee (Steven Yeun) and Nicholas (Michael Traynor). Glenn has always looked out for his fellow man, even risking his life for the benefit of the group. He is the supreme example of living your life by the Golden Rule, which certainly isn’t easy in a world gone mad, with not only walking dead out to get you, but many of the living. Now that he has a wife and a baby on the way, he will do whatever it takes to keep them safe, to include putting himself very much in harms way.

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Nicholas, much like Meryl, was an “it’s all about me” kind of guy, but he hid it well. To the people of Alexandria, he came off as a strong, courageous young man who risked his life going out into the world of walkers on runs for supplies. The truth was revealed when Glenn accompanied Nicholas, Aiden (Daniel Bonjour), Noah (Tyler James Williams), Tara (Alanna Masterson) and Eugene (Josh McDermitt) on a run in search of solar panel components. Glenn had already seen how unprepared he and Aiden were for the world outside the walls, but this run proved that at Nicholas’ core he was a coward, who only thought of his own safety.

In the end, his actions not only got Noah killed, but the lack of skill on he and Aiden’s part got Aiden killed and Tara seriously injured. Eugene, who admitted to be a coward, was more effective on this run than Nicholas. Add to it, Nicholas tried to cover it up by blaming Glenn for Aiden’s death.

The friction between Glenn and Nicholas escalated to a knock down drag out brawl, in which Glenn could have taken Nicholas’ life, but that is not who Glenn is. By saving Nicholas, he gave him a chance to redeem himself and it appeared he was on the road to redemption when he his true color came shining through.

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After a mission to lure a hoard of walkers away from Alexandria went awry, Glenn and Nicholas found themselves trapped in an alley on a dumpster. Instead of working with Glenn to seek a way out, Nichols took his own life and in doing so Glenn went toppling down off the dumpster with Nicholas.

Fortunately Nicholas fell on top of Glenn which shielded Glenn from the hungry walkers long enough for Glenn to shimmy his way under the dumpster until the walkers dispersed wondering after whatever noise caught there attention.

There is one character however that unlike Nicholas has shown that the horrific world of the zombie apocalypse can actually turn the corner and become a productive and positive contribution to the community. Father Gabriel (Seth Gilliam) was a coward to the nth degree when Rick and company came upon him. Hiding in his chapel, where he locked himself in and his parishioners out. Listening to their cries as the walkers tore them apart.

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Yes, a man of the cloth who was more concerned about himself than to come to aid of his followers.

Rick suspected something was up with him, but, he did help Michonne, Carl (Chandler Riggs) and Judith escape the chapel when a small hoard of walkers descended upon the chapel because of his stupidity, so, it was hard to leave him behind when the gang set off for Atlanta after Beth.

Fast forward to the present Season and we find Father Gabriel learning to fight and defending the community and it’s inhabitants. The crumbling world around him has converted him into a man who not only preaches about the Golden Rule, but also lives it.

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So, in the end it’s pretty obvious, that no matter what the circumstances, the person who takes into consideration the needs of those around them, in addition to their own, will fair much better than the “it’s all about me” type.

As the Golden Rule states, do unto others, as you would have them do unto you. These are some serious life-saving words to live by, now and in an apocalypse.

© Mariann E. Danko and Waking the Walker, 2016. All rights reserved.

TWD Photos Courtesy of AMC

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