Zombies are Nietzsche's abyss. They are the Last Men. They are the antithesis of his heroic, creative übermensch. They are parasite nihilists which would expand their numbers exponentially until, having consumed all resources (that is, people), they would slowly decay, rotting away into putrid nothingness.
That is something you do not want to be. Keep that image in your mind. You do not want to be a putrid nothing.
Plagiarism is intellectual zombism. When you're asked to write a paper or story, you're asked to be a creative hero from the Nietzschean perspective. Writing something truly creative and meaningful makes you more of an übermensch. Taking from others, stealing their ideas and claiming them as your own, makes you an existentialist villain, a zombie of the mind (rather than the braaiiiiiinnn).
Moreover, I'd argue it is not even in the plagiarist's own best interest to steal. "Crime doesn't pay" is a somewhat trite oversimplification, but it also kind of works. In a world of me-toos and copy-cats, it's originals who truly excel. Steve Jobs, Howard Schultz, and Henry Ford; Ayn Rand, Frank Herbert, and Jerry Siegel and Joe Schuster. They didn't impact society by imitating anyone else. Love them or leave them, they all did something somehow new and original and left their stamp on the very fabric of our culture.
Make that your heroic ideal toward which you strive. Or, make it something else entirely. But strive toward it! Do not merely go through the motions, taking from others and repackaging it as something new. Even if you fool your peers, or your professor, or your audience, YOU'LL know the truth. You'll know that you don't deserve the credit, that you're not a hero, that you're a zombie.
You'd be a putrid, foul corpse, an empty husk that forgot to die, and you'd know it.
Don't be a zombie. It's as simple as that.
You have something to say. Everybody I've ever met has had something to say about something. It might be nonsense or abjectly incorrect. It might be reprehensible. It might be annoyingly shrill. But say it. Make your mark. Do something, and then next time do something else and do it better. Keep improving.
Never be a zombie.
Harrison Bradlow is a published poet, game designer, blogger, and self-styled philosopher. He is currently accepting submissions for a poetry contest with the prize of publication. Read more of his writing at harrisonbradlow.com, follow him on Twitter @harrison314, and find him on Facebook.
Happy Halloween from the WriteCheck team! Have fun and be safe.