What The Walking Dead Can Teach us About Relationships in Troubled Times

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I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about the current obsession with survivor shows like The Walking Dead and Jericho. We find comfort in the camaraderie and banding together of disparate strangers in a world gone mad. We sit, safely in our family rooms, and journey with the characters as they fight against unbeatable forces in a world clearly doomed. They persevere and battle with all they have, while we observe; hoping that despite overwhelming odds, they will somehow prevail. At the end of every episode, we breathe a sigh of relief that what we’re watching is fiction and return to our normal lives. But is the world we’re living in really that different?

Could it be that the constant reminders of imminent doom delivered through war, terrorism, random shootings, acts of violence, and hatred are so all encompassing that we are drawn to these shows as a model for how to survive in a world where nothing feels safe anymore? Are we merely shell-shocked survivors doing all we can to forestall the inevitable obliteration of decency and goodness?

Far from entertainment value alone, these shows teach a valuable lesson. When it’s all about survival, political and personal differences become irrelevant. Folks that would otherwise never cross paths, never become friends, over time become family. They know what we too easily forget—life is fleeting—and they are careful not to leave important things unsaid.  For them, loyalty, shared goals, and mutual respect are what it takes to survive against villains thirsty for their demise.

We have a common enemy that goes by many names:  Hatred. Intolerance. Ignorance. Intimidation. Indifference. We cannot vanquish that enemy using his methods. It is right to rage against injustice, but when we rage against each other, we accomplish nothing.  It’s time to look around and see who is in our tribe. To look past the differences in opinion regarding candidates and issues and see instead the common desire for a return to decency and a safer world.

Are we living in a doomed world? Or can Christmas remind us of the miracle of hope. As we celebrate the birth of the Prince of Peace, may His example of love and sacrifice be a reminder to all of us to love one another without judgment, without condition, and without reservation.

 


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