⁸The Unnatural, Natural World, part 2

In the 24 hours since posting the story of Magawa, the mine-sweeping, medal of bravery recipient rat, let’s assume that he has again sniffed out a number of active landmines to be rendered into harmless srcaps of metal along Cambodian landscapes. Perhaps some readers wondered if this was fictional. It’s factual. Hey, it was meant to be a feel good slice of life, both human and rodent species-wise. Do we not need feel good distractions in our time of greatest need for such? Feel good as in let’s not politicize this, okay? Just because it’s about a rat doesn’t mean you have to re-direct your mindset to a figurately speaking “rat” that infests a certain domicile along Pennsylvania Avenue in our nation’s capital. Can we just not go there, please? I’m trying to work my way through you-know-what, dig? But then see, it’s next to impossible to not… ******************************************* Oh, well….I suppose there is a sliver of politics inherent in the story, since landmines are a form of official policy instituted in the cause of one governing entity seeking to achieve final victory over another governing body. Politics is friction. Power politics is frictional and fractional. It’s a nasty numbers game. During the reign of Pol Pot and his Khmer Rouge soldiers in the late 70s, 2 million Cambodians died. That regime was overthrown. Left behind, however are estimates as high as 10 million landmines. Thus, Magawa is certainly worthy of praise. Rat or no rat. Better Magawa was raised and prepped for his humanitarian mine-detecting prowess than having wound up in some research lab, awaiting being sacrificed on the alter of cold-blooded evisceration so that we humans might eventually be prescribed yet another pill for what ails us, and the attendant, related deluge of drug ads that infest certain broadcast television programs. So there’s that. ********************************************************************************** Speaking of medical science research, the world awaits a vaccine to protect humanity from the current pandemic. Goodness knows what a relief it would be to get past Covid World. So, if a certain number of rodents are going to be snuffed out to get that job done, then fine, right? What does a mine-detecting rat matter if all of humanity is doomed to perish because of…a…BAT! Yes, the prevailing scientific theory on how Covid-19 formed and spread globally has to do with cross-species transmission. That non-human species is most likely that winged mammal, largely connotating darkness and and icky dreadfulness. There’s even a “vampire bat” species. Talk about a negative image. However, one might step back from the popular culture’s demonization of bats and consider this: bats play a vital role in the ecosystems they inhabit. They spread seeds, and in so doing even help in regenerating rain forests. Rain forests, also referred to as “the lungs of Earth”. Bats eat insects that otherwise would damage crops. “Bats are ecologically just really important,”, says one behavioral ecologist. “They provide billions of dollars worth of ecosystems services to people.” Pro bono service. ***************************************** There you have it, lords and ladies. Rats. Bats. Cut ’em some slack, Jack. They have gotten a bad rap, and that’s a fact. Well, sure rats and bats carry diseases, but each also–as I have noted–have some redeeming qualities. Maybe looking at a rat or bat induces negative reactions, but the point is not to judge so quickly. Don’t be superficial. *************************************** Then again, in some cases, it might be hard to figure what the benefit of some other creatures may be. Take the fly. Hmmm. What, exactly, is ennobling about this object the size of snot, that feasts on feces? Including covid-carrying bat feces that likely landed on some off-the-culinary grid eatable critter, served up in some backwoods culture zone. Or maybe on some cow or pig or lamb and though given a Michelin-starred chef’s haute cuisine approach to presentation of the rendered animal, perhaps a morsel of which has been placed ever so delicately amid an array of this or that from the garden, is consumed by an upper crust type, who after settling up a bill of $750 goes back to a lavish high-rise overlooking a shoreline or keeping company with other glittering towers that attest to the finer things in life, starts a pandemic that takes out the rest of humanity. *************************************** In such a case, Magawa could retire and do what comes natural to its rodent instincts. Bats could hang out without vilification. And flies would have abundant deliquescing delights with which to sustain them. ************************************* See, it’s a an attempt at providing a feel good story, folks. ************************************** You’re welcome.

About jharrin4

mass communication/speech instructor at College of DuPage and Triton College in suburban Chicago. Army veteran of the Viet Nam era.
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