A Societal Fixation on Zombies and Assassins

What does it say about a society when two of its favorite themes of entertainment are books and movies about hitmen and zombies?

The zombie craze speaks for itself in terms of book sales, box office and movie rental fees, and even instruction manuals on zombie preparedness from the US Centers for Disease Control. Zombies serve as a metaphor for some of societies’ growing fears about being overrun by attackers exhibiting mindless violence. In parts of many cities, such fears are not so unreasonable. But in zombie stories, it is okay for citizens to be prepared to chop off zombie heads or do a double tap to zombie brains. In the real world, the pretense of government protection gives citizens the delusion that they do not need to be prepared.

Over the long run, hitmen and assassins have been just as popular as zombies.

James Bond, the proto-hero of action films, is little more than a government assassin, sent to eliminate persons and groups of persons who have become a particular thorn in the side of Her Majesty’s government. And Mr. Bond always succeeds in spectacular fashion.

The US CIA trains assassins as well, but as far as we know most of them are not nearly as successful — to say nothing of as virile or photogenic — as James Bond always seems to be.

A proper assassin should be able to take out a target from up close or from a significant distance. She should be able to make the death seem to be from natural causes, or alternatively to perform the killing in such a way as to “send a message.” The tools of the trade range from piano wire to hunting rifles to explosive devices, and thousands of other devices and substances not usually considered as weapons.

Militaries train selected marksmen to be snipers, and private sniper schools exist to train law enforcement and security personnel. There is even an online site, Sniper Country, which provides basic sniper training information based on US Army sniper tactics.

But snipers are not necessarily well-rounded assassins. To succeed as an all around hitman, one might wish to borrow some lessons in stealth from the ancient ninja. More practical knowledge of stealth in a variety of environments can be learned from a range of freelance instructors who have made such training their life’s work.

Skilled hitmen are often admired by the public, at least in theory and in books and movies. Most people secretly believe that there are those out there who need killing, and perhaps wish at times that they themselves had the skills and the drive to perform the task.

A professional assassin does not generally choose her own targets, so she must live with the guilt of having killed people who may or may not have deserved to die. It may be that the best assassins are high functioning psychopaths, with a strong sense of professionalism, but with little or no empathy for her victims. And for that reason, it is more likely that good assassins are born with most of the traits that will help them succeed in that line of work. Some of them gravitate to organizations that can use their talents, typically government organizations. And some of them go entirely off the reservation and become serial killers. Bad news all around, and fortunately relatively rare.

Few modern humans are suited to the task of killing other humans — even in self defense. Real life is not a video game or a zombie fantasy. Most of us want to live and let live, and for good reason. We tend — with notable exceptions — to live longer and happier lives when we act as if we can all get along, keeping our consciences clear.

And yet lurking deep within the subconscious of many helpless incompetent moderns is a sense that dangers from zombies, and the need for deadly citizens — outside of government — capable of serving as a counter-threat, may not be entirely fantastical or theoretical.

Government, media, academia, corporations, and other large organizations, are in the business of growing and consolidating power. Your well-being is not their concern, despite their claims. And keeping you informed and empowered to most profitably live your life, is probably the last thing those organizations want to do. You may be a world class chump, but you are their world class chump. Your chumpiness is all to their benefit.

How does the idea of The Dangerous Child fit into this desultory philippic (apologies to Paul Simon)? Tangentially. A zombie outbreak, for example, would be very short-lived in the vicinity of a community of Dangerous Children. But would the Dangerous Children make it a crusade to hunt down all zombies wherever they may be? Probably not.

As was explained in an earlier article, Dangerous Children should not be seen as violent. Unless badly provoked. Dangerous Children have too much to live for to become sidetracked by every insult or nascent vendetta.

On the other hand, it is statistically likely that a very few people trained as Dangerous Children will be high functioning sociopaths. The most likely outcome for such persons would be for them to live relatively normal lives, but lives surprisingly free of long-term enemies. 😉

Most Dangerous Children — other than those few who choose careers in the military, law enforcement, or high level private security — are likely to live lives almost totally devoid of serious violence. Dangerous Children are prepared for violence, and for that reason, they are far less likely to suffer serious violence or to be forced to commit serious violence.

Our society is likely to continue its fixations on zombies and hitmen, until the dynamics of how children are raised is changed. A society of persons who were raised to be self-reliant is less likely to obsess over fantasy zombie threats, or to imagine dispensing vengeance vicariously against wrongdoers through the offices of skilled and deadly assassins.

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