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Martin LeFevre: The Day of the Living Dead

Meditations - From Martin LeFevre in California

The Day of the Living Dead

The dead man living next door cut down the three finest trees on the block soon after moving in. It’s difficult to fathom, but the living have to fathom the dead, for they are destroying the earth and humanity.

It’s a relatively new street, and the trees are young, and medium sized. In a climate where there is nary a cloud for seven months out of the year, and temperatures of 40 C during the summer are common, obviously shade trees are prized.

Plus it’s an arboreal town, and proud of it. Many streets are positively sylvan, but those neighborhoods are in the most demand. The tree in the front yard of the house next door was the largest on the street, and provided welcome shade to one’s home office.

When the new neighbor cut it down, I thought there must be something wrong with the tree, not him. But then he cut down another fine specimen in the backyard, and finally, to complete his personal ghetto, he cut down the last one in his yard.

It took a while for us to understand why. An inordinate use of one those infernal leaf blowers (for the leaves off our tree), plus some other indications, gave overwhelming evidence of an underworld of anality.

Every leaf must be blown from his yard into the street, and even across the street. The blower will roar on and on as his phallic symbol shoots its constant stream of…air.

Clearly, leaves bother this fellow. In addition, the presence of exterminators once a month indicates that the place is either crawling with cockroaches, or the sight of a spider inside sends this man’s anus into a paroxysm of puckered discomfort. In short, he hates living things. That is one sad zombie.

The clincher came today when the interminable leaf blower came out again. Autumn is just peaking in this part of California, and the splendid colors are being followed by plentiful detritus.

When one’s work was interrupted by the non-stop machine next to the house, I looked out the front window to see the poor slob (well, actually, anti-slob) painstakingly blowing as many leaves from the side of his house into our yard as he could. After all, they’re not his leaves; they’re our leaves, right?

What is the reason that so many people in the West have so deadened themselves? It isn’t just pain and suffering. Humans have known much more pain and suffering through the centuries than people in the West feel now.

It appears to be a combination of weakening of what used to be called character, and the primal need of humans for social acceptance and conformity.

We are, as the cliché goes, social creatures. Very few people stand alone. Most people would rather inwardly die than be separated from the group. And so when the group dies, they die. The primal social need makes people stay in the herd, even when staying in the herd means losing your soul.

I don’t much care for that word ‘soul.’ It has too many Christian connotations, smacks of judgment, and skirts around the edges of heaven or hell, ultimate reward or punishment.

But there is something the majority of people in North America have lost, and since Bush Junior did his job on the world, apparently it’s happening in Europe and beyond as well. People here often refer to it as ‘numbness’ or depression. That goes a long way to describing it, but goes nowhere near understanding it.

The fact is, the living dead are comfortable. If the dead were just taking up space and resources for survival, plus a little extra for physical comfort, that might be OK. But they’re cutting down the trees, killing the animals, changing the climate, destroying the open spaces, and precluding all but the strongest people from growing into human beings.

So their comfort must end, and I think, it is ending. It’s just not working very well for the self-satisfied members of the uncountable and unaccountable herd anymore.

Even so, the race for the earth and the future of humanity is on. Every trick, technique, and technology is being tried before doing the one thing that needs to be done. It’s amazing, but self-knowing is the last thing all but a few want anything to do with.

Why? Because the very fear that makes people trade their souls, for lack of a better word, for remaining part of a dead social group, also makes them afraid to stop running with the pack.

It isn’t the job of the living to awaken the dead. But it is the job of the living to step forth, because if we don’t, there will be no space left for anything alive.


- Martin LeFevre is a contemplative, and non-academic religious and political philosopher. He has been publishing in North America, Latin America, Africa, and Europe (and now New Zealand) for 20 years. Email: The author welcomes comments.

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