The Little Sniffer

About sixteen months ago, amidst our ongoing pandemic, and just prior to the divisive Biden/Trump electoral showdown, along with the increasingly alarming documentation of looming climate collapse, I came across a very refreshing. extraordinary story about a young and talented individual helping to make part of this looney tunes world a better, safer place. His name: Magawa. His job: identifying left behind land mines from Cambodia’s infamous “killing fields” during the genocidal reign of the Khmer Rouge. ***************************** Ugh, right? Did I have to remind anyone about that bit of sickening history? Can’t you just be left with your meds and cheese-lovers pizzas, your 100 proof hootch, and streaming services? Hey, those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it. So, do NOT forget to remember. Thus, consider this a reminder of that adage that you better not forget. Just trying to help here, okay? And the point here is not simply that our human history is abundant with horrific reminders of what a nasty, heartless, homicidal species we, Homo Sapiens, are. Who needs to be reminded of that? We’re genocidal, homicidal, suicidal, petty, gullible, lazy and rather ignorant, evermore given to dark, dangerous magical thinking. An then there’s the Republican Party on top of all that. The Party of Nothingness. ****************************** But wait. This posting is about Magawa. And my initial posting about him was a feel good story, a story about a hero, a tireless seeker of hidden land mines that still kill Cambodians over 40 years after the Khmer Rouge regime was defeated. Magawa, awarded a gold metal for his ability to find those mines and do so quite efficiently. You could say he possessed a real “nose” for detecting them. He and his excellent sniffer could cover an area the size of a tennis court in 30 minutes. Before Magawa came along, that same area would take four days to cover. Magawa’s success was aided by his being very small, a true lightweight. If fact, Magawa’s weight was slight enough that even if he stepped on a live, hidden mine, it would not explode! How so? How light can one be to do that?! Well, you see, Magawa comes from the species known as African Giant Pouched Rat. “Giant” clearly is a relative term in this case. Yes, Magawa is. or was, a rat. ****************************** Sadly, Magawa has died. He saved many lives in his years of selfless duty to humankind. He was only 8 years old. Well, given that most rats rarely make it past 5, Magawa was long-lived. He elevated the image of rats everywhere, I’d say. Ha, you snicker. Rats? Elevated? What? You still loathe any rat, right? Fine, be that way. Just remember this, however: no rat would create a device designed to kill itself. Humans love making things that can kill themselves. Who’s frightening now, eh? *************************** I get it though. Rats do not make for charming encounters. But next time you do see one and want someone, anyone to please KILL IT, just remember Magawa. ************************* Have you ever been awarded a gold metal for magnanimity?

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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