Lately there had been talk of rampant cannibalism taking over the country. A student in Maryland allegedly dismembered his roommate and ate his heart and brain. His father and brother reported him after finding a severed head and two hands in a bucket in his locker. In Canada, police were searching for a porn actor who allegedly killed a man with an ice pick, raped him and dismembered his body before eating his flesh. He fled to France but was soon arrested. In Miami, a crazed drug addict high on bath crystals attacked another homeless man and ate 80% of the flesh off his face. (The below picture is gruesome, don't look!) Doctors in a Miami hospital are still sorting out his face, but it looks like they're doing a pretty good job of patching things up.
Hundreds of years ago in parts of the world this behavior might not have seemed so deviant as cannibalism has been known and documented around the world. In India, for instance, it was the norm for folks to eat their parents as a sign of respect and honor, while other tribes believed they could attain the qualities of those they admired by eating them, just as the Chinese eat monkey brains to be smarter and deer to run faster. Fiji was once called the Cannibal Isles. And during times of famine, many cases of cannibalism have been reported in many countries around the world.
However, as an indication of how worried people were about a possible outbreak of zombieism in America, Google recorded that ‘zombie apocalypse’ was the third most popular search term on their site for a few weeks. People were concerned whether this was an aberration, or if the country really were being invaded by cannibals.
Perhaps these latest cases of cannibalism are only an anomaly, but it could be the start of what the future holds if the price of food keeps rising: human flesh as food resource. In 2011, according to the Food Research and Action Center, a non-profit research group, one out of every five Americans (18.6%), reported that they couldn’t always afford to feed everyone in their family. Families are spending more than half their earnings on just keeping a roof over their head, and the food situation will only worsen if the economic disaster continues to deepen, the price of gas and oil continues to rise, and the mortgage crisis continues to throw people out of their homes.
In 1973, the prophetic movie ‘Soylent Green’ told the story of a polluted and over-populated Earth and a New York City that had expanded to over 40 million inhabitants, most of whom couldn’t feed themselves. Natural resources had been exhausted and fruits, vegetables and fresh meat didn’t exist. There was little for humans to eat except what was produced by Soylent Industries, a food factory using plankton from the oceans as a food base. However, a murder leads to an investigation and the discovery of a secret ingredient in the food. Can you guess what it is? Perhaps it's time to move past George Orwell's 1984 and look at the message that this other prophetic story is warning us about.
Are we on the verge of a ‘zombie apocalypse’ as the economy continues to drive families deeper and deeper into debt, poverty and homelessness? Will humans seek out other humans as a source of food in the future? Only time and hunger and desperation will tell.