Rachel made an excellent comment on my last post. She pointed out the importance of maintaining our humanity, in believing that even people who've done the terrible things the captured marauders have done might be helped. She posed the possibility that they're sick...or maybe they aren't.
I was angry and hurt when I wrote it, and if one lesson has shone forth in the last year and a half, it's that the worst thing we can do as survivors is to forget our most basic humanity. Those men will be tried for their crimes. I'm not saying that killing them is wrong, I still feel it's completely deserved. But there is a difference between killing men in the field who are actively holding captives and killing them while they're captives themselves.
I was upset, but I blame the walrus.
That's an inside joke among my team. As I was thinking about my rash words the other day, so casually suggesting throwing those six men to a pack of zombies out of hand, I felt guilty. I got my head on straight, tried to remember the basic but vital differences between Us and Them. No false modesty here: I think people like me, who've tried to help as many others to survive as possible are just better people than marauders. We have a moral line that we try not to cross.
And honestly, sometimes it's the little things that keep me from slipping across the line. Enter: the walrus.
When we set out on this trip, the necessities of the journey meant that creature comforts would have to be limited. None of us brought books to read, or virtually any personal items. Space in our trailer is cramped and weight is an issue. Our tiny travelling world is bare.
On the second night out, Becky and I were jammed onto the tiny bed while Will was driving. She and I aren't strangers to sharing a mattress, as she often crashed on my giant bed back home with Jess and whoever else might have needed a place to flop at my house. Funny how desperate times breeds new comfort levels...
So the limited sleeping space wasn't really an issue. Becky and I share warmth and space. Will, unfortunately, wasn't paying much attention to the road for some reason. He hit a big pothole, and the trailer actually bounced. We were thrown off the bed, which flipped over on top of us. Only our dignity suffered wounds. We are, after all, survivors of the zombie plague. Hardened colonists in a frontier of the dead. It was clearly below us to have our asses handed to us by a bed.
Beds are tricky bastards.
As we untangled ourselves and straightened out the trailer, Becky noticed a stowaway. It was a small stuffed walrus. Someone had put it under the hard board the mattress was mounted on. No idea who.
I made my way up to the cab of the truck, and harangued Will about his driving. I didn't realize I still had the walrus in my hand, Becky having handed to to me. Will took being berated by a stuffed-animal wielding, sleep deprived maniac with stoic passivity, then calmly said the following:
"Don't look at me. Blame the walrus."
I laughed. Totally out of proportion to the hilarity of the statement, I laughed. I had tears in my eyes.
Since then, when something goes wrong, "Blaming the Walrus" is an acceptable option. It isn't always used. The timing and situation are critical. It makes us laugh. It's a silly, irreverent thing, more suited to small children than my team, or so you'd think.
The whole idea of it strikes me as something special and important. Just as the walrus shows that we consistently refuse to give in to despair at the state of the world or the difficulty of our lives, choosing instead to find laughter and light where we can...
...So does treating even the worst of men and women with a base level of respect and due process show that we are, at least in some small way, different than they. Better. We have to choose as honorable a path as we can. Rachel was right, completely. We have to take a stand somewhere on the right side of honor.
Survival is not enough. Our choices bring meaning to our struggle. They should be the right ones, that can be looked back on with pride...