Counter-Instinctual Humanity

My first year seminar class is on the topic of zombies, their metaphor, and their meaning in American popular culture and meaning. This morning we finished watching George Romero’s Night Of The Living Dead. After the movie we discussed some of the themes and topics that stuck out to us.

One of the characters, Barbara, witnessed her brother die at the hands of zombies within the first few minutes of the movie and remains in a state of shock for the rest of the film. She spends most of the movie sitting on a couch helpless and detached from everything. Someone asked how the character managed to be one of the last two survivors. This brought to light a very interesting part of human nature: humans take care of those who cannot. 

In any other species the weak are left behind. Survival of the fittest. With humans the situation is very different. We act counter-instinctually. We take care of the weak who cannot care for themselves. We run into burning buildings to save people who are trapped.We run toward gunfire and war to defend our country.

We turn to the unknown for comfort instead of running from it.


For the most part, things that scare us are things that we don’t fully understand. So why do we turn to the sacred reality that we can’t see or understand to answer our biggest questions and comfort us when faced with tragedy?

We are truly a counter-instinctual species. So many of the things we do go against our natural instincts. So what makes us act and behave in this manner?


Is it possible that interaction with something sacred and greater than ourselves allows us to act and think beyond our instincts? Is the will to protect and care for those who cannot do so for themselves a way we mediate the sacred.


It seems pretty believable to me. All animals have these natural instincts. But humans have something more. We have the ability to interact with the sacred.


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