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November 2019

The question is as old as the hills. Which came first, the chicken or the egg? The argument can last longer than a Monopoly game. And there’s another question equally as baffling: does life imitate art, or does art imitate life? While both are true, a pretty good argument can be made that art mostly imitates life. With its foundation in light, color, shape, texture, and materials, art gets its inspiration from what we see, feel, and experience.

Art also imitates our attitudes about life. Renaissance artists like Michelangelo and Raphael painted and sculpted people to personify certain attitudes. Women were a bit chubby, a sign of wealth, leisure, abundance, and health. Weight was also a sign of fertility, an attribute very attractive to men—the artists of the time. Renaissance ideals for men drew heavily on those of classical Greece. The ideal man was extremely well balanced, both intellectually and physically. Michelangelo’s David is that sight to behold—all seventeen feet of him.

The same thing happens in our pop culture. Back in the ’50s and early ’60s, cowboy shows were the rage. As our country continued to flex its muscles and feel its prosperity, cowboys were seen as rough and tumble figures. Their women were mostly fawning and subservient. With the Cold War came thriller movies like Fail Safe and The Manchurian Candidate. Popular family-hour offerings, like The Andy Griffith Show and The Dick Van Dyke Show gave way in the mid ’70s to less and less traditional family shows. And both gave way to the cops-and-robbers, private eye stuff that’s still out there, only more violent. Today’s television is largely a mix of sex and violence—a certain sign of the times.

Then there are the zombie shows. The Walking Dead. Z Nation. Fear the Walking Dead. The list is long. Zombies are the undead, reanimated in decaying corpses, ever searching to feed on the flesh of the living. So the living are always fearful, always on the run, and always ready to destroy zombies. After all, a bitten survivor becomes a zombie.

Zombie shows enjoy a surprising popularity. Why are people so fascinated with them? There are a few theories. One is that people have a desire to create risks and dangers feeding that adrenalin rush, something that zombies can do quite well. Another suggests that zombies challenge our internal order, man’s innate desire to categories objects. Just where does a zombie fit in the order of the world?

But there is another theory that may have legs. For our culture, zombies represent the problems of our world. They substitute for the threats of nuclear war, post-9/11 terrorism, contagious illnesses unaffected by the strongest antibiotics, rivers gone brown, skies ever dirty, melted ice caps, violence in the streets, rationing of food supplies and health care, and every other disaster imaginable. Zombies represent people we hate, people who are coming after us, who want our stuff, who want our jobs, who want our homes and schools and neighborhoods, who want us. The message of zombie movies is simple: survive, any way you can. And so the prototypical scene in a zombie movie is a headshot: a shotgun blast or pickax to the face, blood and gore flying all over. Zombie fighters are trying to stay alive. They’re survivalists.

Survivalism has probably always been around in some form. Survivalists prepare for emergencies, from local to global. In itself, that’s not a bad thing.   But because its point is personal survival, it can turn people into enemies. The survivalist mentality says, “If it’s between you and me, it’s gonna be me.” A nuclear bomb shelter can hold only so much food.

The survivalist mentality pervades our attitudes towards the unborn. Our culture treats them like the enemy—creatures who will cramp our space, take our resources, shackle us in a thousand ways, and ultimately eat us alive. Last month, our parish displayed thousands of crosses on the church lawn together with signs of support for the right to life. On two evenings, someone vandalized the signs, writing on one, “F*** your religion. Save the planet.” On another, the vandal scribbled a message about climate change. How is killing babies going to save the planet? Per person, babies consume fewer resources than the vandal. They replace a population we are currently failing to replace. As for those signs, we needed gallons of naphtha, a harsh chemical, to clean the mess. So much for “saving the planet.”

Signs are replaceable. Human beings are not. Every one is unique, a special gift of God that will not be recreated. It brings us to the sad cases of Alyssa Milano and the many other women who have made the wrong choices for the wrong reasons. An actress and outspoken pro-abortion advocate, Milano recently said that without her abortions, “My life would be completely lacking all its great joys. I would never have been free to be myself, and that’s what this fight is about. Freedom.”

But killing an unborn baby to maintain a so-called freedom is simply survivalism in a brutal form. To Milano, and certainly to others like her, their unborn babies became zombies. They got in the way of what the women wanted to do. Headshots follow. It’s so sad because women can find joy without killing their children. God rewards those who live His way.   There is a real irony in attitude of Milano and others like her. Milano says she is now a happily married mother of two. Where would her joy be if her husband’s mother had aborted him?

God does not intend us live with a survivalist attitude towards the unborn. We are called to live the buddy system, caring for each other’s needs, and seeing each other’s potential. Our joy comes with raising the next generation to be the people He intends of them.

Who knows? One of them just might save the planet.


Paul V. Esposito is a Catholic lawyer who writes on a variety of pro-life topics. He and his wife Kathy live in Elmhurst, Illinois and have six children.

© Paul V. Esposito 2019. Culture of Life. Permission to copy and distribute for pro-life purposes is granted. Visit us at and on Facebook.

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