Thursday, 29 August 2013

One of the Colony

Dinner time. All the family are gathered, each replete with their usual antics and intentions.
            A lovely summer's day has blessed this fell hoarding of members, and sunlight burns brazenly, coating foreheads in thin coats of sweat.
            Food of all definition is arrayed on the table, each repast more delectable than its predecessor in appearance and smell.
            All in all, there are elements of a good day.
            And then, disaster.
            Distant buzzing grows louder until the ears are pricked in irritation; burgeoning, looming, and people begin to notice.
            Hands wave, attempt to slap, and expressions grow sour until, at last, a hand slams down inches from a chopping board dressed in rich fruits.
            This is an act of preservation. Yet, see the crushed wings, the dark green mess of pulp, and a single twitching leg.
            The fly is dead.

Most of us have been there, haven't we? A fly, a bee, a wasp, they irritate us en masse.
            Recently, on holiday with my family, a restaurant we visited was encumbered by flies, to the point where after each chip consumed I found myself swatting the air with ire.
            Whether or not the flies were declaring war on my family, and using our food as a symbol of conquest each time they landed, only to secure a narrow escape, I do not know. What I do know is that many of the little buzzing devils died during their efforts.
            And, in all honesty, I have swatted down many house flies, (don't get me started on the Great Fly Vs Carter War of 2012, that was a deeply harrowing experience), but not until recently, when somebody posed the impending question on Google+ did I truly begin to ponder the rationale behind my murderous history with flies, bees and wasps (one of which stung me last Friday...prescient karma, perhaps?).
            Why do we kill small insects that we find in our homes, or near our food/drinks?
            "Because they are irritating!" I hear some people say; "because I don't want them near my food!" protests another.
            However, would you rather have one chip spoilt, or a behemoth fifty times your size swinging for you with demonic intent?
            If you need to answer that question, you're in the wrong room.
            I would be remiss, however, if the situation was so simple, that is to say, if each time we made to obliterate a small creature, we actually remembered "hang on, I'm about to take a life," and consequently, the guilt began to rise within us, ascending to our very core, until we lowered the tempered swatter.
            I would be remiss because when we see a fly on our food, or a wasp hovering near our child, we relegate rationale and understanding beneath the survival instinct within us, and this is not something we can laud, nor excoriate, but something that, if we take a moment to consider, is often the case. Only a person of sheer indifference, I suspect, could allow either of the aforementioned situations to merely float before them.
            So, our aggression, unrelenting until the insect is a splattered mess, or until, heavens forefend, the little buzzer evades the hunting party, is forged in a fire of panic and irritation.
            Well, we are many of us familiar with panic in some sense or other. Be it something personal, such as worrying over your outfit for a job interview, or something much more ecumenical; for instance, being head of a security team during a terror threat. In this latter situation, you're required to be the very antithesis of panic, but to be so far away from something is not to shun it, nor feign incomprehension. To have to marshal against mass hysteria is to know the effects that threaten, and to know how it will affect so many.
            Panic, therefore, triggers the survival instinct, as mentioned. The desire to push not just ourselves, and not just those closest to us, but humanity as one collective unit, through this threatening warp.
            But wait, what about those of you who read Purging the Pure and remember my argument that humanity's survival mindset is fundamentally charged and served within a self-absorbed containment; that is to say, that, as in Purging the Pure, humanity would prey on itself because at that time, we are our own enemy, as was the case in the film that inspired that blog, "The Purge"?
            Well, my point is within the text, so to speak.
            Purging the Pure was my first written document on how humanity can brutalize itself, when no common enemy or threat beckons. Internecine warfare, I suppose. What I argue here and now is that, when we are threatened by an outsider, such as an insect, the situation triggers this pull together attitude that has allowed humans to control the earth and reign supreme to the point of technological advancement that allows you and I to share this conversation, even if we won't ever meet in person.
            Now, take the flies, the bees and wasps, and scale them up into a vessel filled with threats to mankind - diseases, natural disasters and of course, death. Think of one, and consider how humans pull together.
            Where I'm from, in Manchester, a huge new Cancer Research Facility is in its construction stage. Now, have you ever walked or driven past a construction site, and thought Nothing is being done apart from builders sipping tea and groaning about the rain, only to walk past a month later, and do that second-take where you have to really peruse the land, and will yourself to believe that the new edifice is a step far, far closer to being finished than you believed possible? Whether you have or haven't, my point is this: this Cancer Research Facility seems to be growing at a breakneck speed. Now, maybe the architects and planners and whoever would raise their eyebrows, but a part of me believes that, for the greater good, the human mindset would view building a CRF faster than, say, a new Tesco store.
            Wishful thinking? Perhaps.
            Diseases or animals, our species has prevailed for millennia for a multitude of reasons. We repopulate at expansive rates, and is part of that, in no small thanks, down to intercourse being an act of pleasure among humans, not just an act of reproduction? Does that, in one way, strengthen the bond when, in the fires of inchoate passion, we create a child? To reproduce in order to endure is one thing; to conceive in an act of raw, unbound love is wholly another. We are interweaving our very self with that of another person.
            Our children are the extension of our compassionate will. To see our own legacies forged and our species continue to flourish; thus, it is understandable that we protect our children from the perils, be they a fly or a rabid dog or just a common cold. We guard them, because we love them, don't we? And, deep down, are love and compassion what truly separate our species from all others on earth?

N.B. I still intend to kill flies if they come near my food.


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