Waking up from the zombie curse….
Many people, when they think of Haiti, recall images of zombies rising from a deep, death like sleep to walk on earth in a trance like state. It has similarities to the many western European fairy tales in which a person is poisoned and drifts into a deep sleep for many years waiting to be woken up, most often by a true love’s kiss. The person may be locked in a tower, banished to the forest or may be enslaved but always they are in a state of waiting for someone or something to free them. In real life, both here in Haiti and Europe, people were given poisons, imprisoned unfairly and cast out as refugees looking for new places to live. They reflected our deepest fear of being powerless and out of control when perhaps the greatest danger might be that we walk on this earth not fully awake or waiting for someone else to save us.
Western fairy tales and the tales of zombies are one way for us to better understand ourselves and the world around us. In the Jungian way of looking at the Zombie Curse, we are all the people involved. We are the one giving the potion; the one allowing ourselves to go to sleep and drift into a deep unconscious about what is happening in the world. We are the person who is acting like the living dead, unaware of the world around us. We are also the one to lift the curse and wake ourselves up. We are waiting to be woken up, to have the curse lifted and emerge loved and whole.
Each day we are presented with many anecdotes to the “Zombie Curse”. We are offered the cool breeze blowing through the window, the smile of children, the cycles of the moon on a dark night, friendships and good conversations. In Haiti, there are the songs of praise and worship before and after everything we do. The midwives I am teaching will face untold deaths as a result of poverty in the hours to come, but first they stand in a circle of pink scrubs to sing and pray. At those times, I pray to protect and be protected and most of all to be awake there, in what seems sometimes a place of the half living; of small eyes peering out to remind us they are there within the body that cries in pain.
If we read the news, we are shocked, each day out of our zombie sleep. It is too terrible out there. If we can; we sleep, eat, shop, watch movies, use drugs – anything to keep us from feeling and knowing what is going on in the world. We work too much, hide, build walls, spin cocoons; all the while creating our won zombie state while still living in this world.
We are shaken awake by heart breaking events; school shootings, bombs, natural disasters, nuclear disasters, epidemics. We are exhausted by our grief and if we allow it, it drives us deeper and deeper into the zombie like state of the living dead.
The gift of understanding both Sleeping Beauty and the Zombie Curse is that we can try each day to stay awake to what is good and beautiful in our world as well as the terrible injustices and the pain that others live within.
The effects of colonialism, imperialism and unleashed corporate greed have turned sustainable communities into places of extreme poverty and environmental degradation the result of destroying cultures, ancient market economies and natural resources shakes us awake day after day. We loose our children through illness, war, and violence and yet we cannot stay awake long enough to look beyond the one event and see the world as a whole.
I watch the nuns feeding hundreds of children, housed in iron cribs and I want to crawl under my mosquito net and sleep. A baby, in the hospital, dies needlessly and I want to collapse.
In social sustainability, we live, fully aware of our communities and where we get our food and the things we use. We need never worry that the clothes we are wearing is the cause of another’s suffering; that our inherited wealth has its roots in the slavery and exploitation of a not too distant past. It asks us to wake up and be present. It asks us to study and understand history and to know where the things we use and consume come. Above all, it asks us to make connections so that we don’t sleep though the root causes of hurt and suffering while living with joy in the present moment.
In Haiti, the people cherish their mountainsides. Each community I have lived in has a special place high on a hill where they gather for prayer and singing and a time to reflect and be quiet. From there I can join them as they watch sunsets and sunrises and the gentle comings and goings of the countryside.
It is there that we pray to be protected from the” Zombie Curse” and ask that we have the strength, determination and bravery to wake ourselves up in time to live life fully and simply. We pray that we do not need violence to be woken up and that we will try, each day better than the one before, to shed this curse and live with gratitude for all that we’ve been given.