Someone posted two very good and pertinent questions the other day, and I'd like to take this post to answer them. I've been talking out a lot of my stress and worry with people the last few days, and doing so has helped me get a grip on our experiments, my other duties, and my place in New Haven in general. I think airing out some things here might do the same.
The first: What's the general feeling in New Haven about keeping live zombies inside the walls?
The general feeling is apprehension. I suppose I should say, the initial feeling was. New Haven is a fairly tight-knit group, and everyone knows that their friends and neighbors will be careful for the good of the group. That being said, I don't think there's anybody here that is ecstatic with the idea that there are active zombies being held inside New Haven.
And no matter how good the security around our test subjects is (and it is) there will always be that buzzing background awareness, a base level of discomfort and fear, that will never be entirely eliminated while the test subjects are still alive. In my opinion that's a good thing. Without a nice, healthy fear of the undead none of us would be here.
The best thing about the citizens of New Haven is that by and large they can intellectualize their fears and reactions. Our people don't like the idea of keeping live zombies here, but overall the feedback we've had is good. No one, including Evans, Gabby, and myself, likes the things we have been doing to our captive undead. No one likes having them here at all. But most people recognize the potential for understanding and gaining an advantage this situation creates. The average citizen makes the conscious decision to deal with it, and moves on. It's really that simple.
Of course, there are always dissenters. I place no blame on them. Some people weigh the danger against the possible information we might gather and decide the risk isn't worth it. Those folks have completely valid viewpoints. It really is a dangerous game to play, and they're right to be worried for the safety of the community.
There isn't a right or wrong, just differing opinions. Recognizing that reality is something most people have a hard time with. We do a pretty good job here for the most part, and that makes me happy.
The other question was: how do people feel about someone they know volunteering to turn into a zombie?
As I typed that out, an intense flash of nostalgia hit me. For a second, I was the me I was before The Fall, just a nerd for whom the present situation was just a thought exercise. The question itself reminds me of all the times my friends and I would get into discussions about comics and ask what superpowers we'd have, and all other kinds of hypothetical situations based on whatever genre struck our fancy.
Coming back to the present, I'm reminded that this isn't a hypothetical.
The answer is simple: Rick made a choice. A lot of people were upset by that choice, but not in the sense that they were angry at him about it. More because they themselves would never want to reanimate, and couldn't understand why he would let it happen. That's where the ability to use logic begins to fail, the fine distinctions of a person's reason faltering against the onslaught of emotion tied to death.
As hard as it is for people to understand Rick's decision (and I'm one of them, I don't think I could have done the same) they don't seem to have any problem accepting the fact that it was his to make. I haven't heard anyone say that it's wrong or anything. I haven't been told we're evil because we're using the resource of his body just as we use all other available resources. Rick was in pain and only likely to stay hurting until he died, and he understood the facts. He knew he wasn't going to get better by some miracle. He was going to die.
Once we started to explain to him the trove of information we might gain by being able to observe the change as it happened, Rick connected the dots. He knew that such an opportunity might not come along again before the New Breed attacked in numbers, if ever. He saw the need, and he rose to the occasion.
So, for the most part, people aren't freaking out about it. It's definitely weird, and I'm extremely uncomfortable working with what used to be Rick. His face is familiar, but the man he was is completely gone. Sort of like seeing a person you know have a brain injury, I guess.
I think a huge part of why I'm able to work with him despite my discomfort is that like most of New Haven's citizens, I know Rick is gone. Whatever vital force was at work within his body, soul or Ka or whatever you want to call it, is gone. What's left behind is a shell manipulated by another living thing. It isn't him in any real sense.
That recognition probably explains why people aren't more upset. While they don't like having zombies "alive" inside the walls and certainly don't think the idea of volunteering to become one is ideal, they don't see Rick's remnant as him. Or as a person at all. I'm not performing tests on someone we knew and respected. Public opinion seems centered around the idea that I'm basically doing an autopsy with an unusually mobile subject.
I'm really trying to get away from focusing on these experiments too much, but I'm glad I did this today. It really did make me feel better (and this is my blog--I'm allowed to be a selfish bastard sometimes) and hopefully gave the current situation a little balance. I hope this post has made a difference with some of you out there who might think we're going too far. I assure you, we're still people of conscience.
Tomorrow, I'll be back with a few pieces of news. All of them good, one of them very interesting.