It was late at night, or early in the morning, depending on your outlook. I was alone in the house. Or so I thought. I stood up and moved away from the dimmed screen of my cheap but effective tablet (yes I have upgraded 🙂 )and sauntered to the kitchen for a glass of water before heading to sleep. I switched on the lights. And blinked. Several times. Bugs everywhere. Swarming, crawling, looting. Big roaches, small roaches, all were deep in a hedonistic binge, scavenging for food scraps and happily stepping on my dirty plates and cups sitting idly in a kitchen sink that rarely spews out water. I didn’t even think about it. I stomped on the nearest bugs on the floor. STOMP! STOMP! STOMP! What followed was a mass exodus to the nearest crooks and crevices that adorn my shared Highrise apartment. They had sensed the vibrations. There was an intruder in their midst! And they naturally followed their instincts and ran for dear life.
I have an unspoken agreement with these nefarious creatures. They only come out in the late hours of the night, when everyone has retired to their beds and left the kitchen to its own devices. I have a creamy, mean-looking gecko living with me in my room, which means that I rarely encounter any bugs there. As such, I was actually the one in the wrong, for I had reneged on our implied contract and had disturbed them when they had the right to ‘help me dispose’ of my leftovers. This thought made me chuckle as I switched off the lights in the kitchen and headed back to continue reading, somehow immune to the tempting warmth of the bed just next to me.
However, my mind couldn’t let go of the bugs. I thought about how easy it was for me to squash a few of them. I thought of how often I’d done this, night after night. I thought of the relentless campaigns of terror my roomies and I have launched against these bugs. Of how we’ve laid traps and powdered poison, all to no avail. In their eyes, we are the bad guys. The Hitlers and colonialists of the bug-world. It was then that another, more disturbing train of thought intruded and engraved itself permanently on my brain. Aren’t we bugs to someone else as well?
The common man is a cog in a giant machine that dutifully serves its master, those whom we call the ‘elites’. Those whom we admire and wish to fashion ourselves in their likeness. In their image. I love and hate capitalism in equal measure. It is due to capitalism that I was able to get a cheap tablet to help me carry my books and music with me. It is due to capitalism and the political machine that is the community of nations that the internet came into my life. Yet it is the same capitalism that makes me a slave. Always working and seeking to gain an advantage over my neighbor so that I can acquire things that are not really essential to my existence. Why else do we want huge mansions and expensive fuel guzzlers that elbow and eclipse everything else on the road? Why else do we stare lustfully at these inefficient engines of pollution and death?
We have contracted the bug of primitive accumulation of wealth. A terrible disease that has led us to rape the earth for resources to fuel our energy lust. A disease that has led us to trample on our fellow human beings in the race to become an ‘elite’. For in our twisted thinking, only those at the top have “worked hard enough and sacrificed enough so they should naturally get the chance to lord and rule over everyone else. After all, this is natural selection in progress.”
Homo hominis lupus. Man is wolf to man. The plunder of countries in Africa (and in other parts of the world) is continually being perpetuated by the ruling governments of the day. Unfortunately, the ordinary citizen, the ‘peasant’ never gets to really enjoy all the fruits and resources that are available. Famine exists not because there is a food shortage, but because there are regions and groups of people who cannot access the food that is already there.
Workers toil and slave everyday for pennies and are then heavily taxed by a tax policy that favors those who get their income not from salaries, but from investments. Man has successfully created a machine that squashes fellow men like bugs. Relentlessly. Mercilessly. This machine has been so good and so effective at its work that it has convinced us that this is the way the world works, that envisioning a new world, a new way of doing things is futile and doomed to failure. You have to admire the ingeniousness of a system that makes its subjects believe resistance is useless.
Powerful nations routinely squash weaker nations by imposing skewed trade deals and agreements that really only benefit a few ‘elites’ in the weak country and many ‘elites’ in the stronger country. Meanwhile, everyone else in both countries will be shafted, rimmed and be left holding a mountain of debt that will have to be repaid for countless years to come. We are bugs, ready to be squashed, because we do not understand what is going on. Because we are too busy working in this machine so that we can also squash others.
Ironically, the entire human race is a bug that has been squashed time and time again by disease. Bugs also ‘squash’ us. We tend to think that we are the most powerful species on the earth, yet for centuries tiny, invisible microbes have been routinely culling us and decimating entire populations. Unfortunately, we are too busy fighting each other for the right to further oppress and gain from the hard work of others to band together and present an united front against this ruthless foe. Instead of seeking to line our pockets with public funds, instead of continuously harming the environment with inefficient production processes, we should be focused on eliminating this foe. Cancer. Epidemics like Ebola and pandemics like HIV/AIDS. Malaria. Obesity. Diabetes.
This is not a world that we have inherited from our forefathers. It is a world that we have borrowed from our children. We owe it to them to come together and forget about hurting each other. Cooperation aimed at lifting each other up is healthier and more profitable. We are global citizens now, and our allegiance is to the planet, and the human race. Not private interests.
But we are too busy trying to gain an upper hand. Too busy trying to squash other human beings. Too busy squashing bugs.