Anyone who believes humankind is at the top of the food chain does not live around mosquitoes. In fact, if you believe my former microbiology professor, we have 1012 human cells, and 1013 microbial cells, so we are only ten percent human. Perhaps we are merely mini-universes for the skin and gut flora, and the viruses and bacteria that make our respiratory tracts and other organic neighborhoods their homes. Bottom line is humankind’s highest and best purpose may be to provide food and habitat for insects, viruses, and unicellular organisms.
This brings me to monotheism, the anthro-centric belief in a male-like supreme being who is detached and dominant, competitive, and paternalistic, omniscient, omnipotent, and perfect.
What does the monotheistic tradition have to do with mosquitoes, a reasonable person might ask. Well, this God, according to tradition, has placed man above the animals, nature, and certainly above the lowly insects, bacteria, and viruses. This God also must think cruelty is funny, because He torments man and woman with these miniature vampires that He could eradicate with a flip of a life-switch, if He so chose. No, instead, He puts humanity in the position of alleviating his own misery through insecticides like malathion, or genetic engineering to produce sterile male mosquitoes under patent, for release in Key West, Florida.
In other words, this control-freak God, who seems to enjoy stirring up wars between the competitive monotheists descended from The Fall, must love mosquitoes, ticks, fleas, sand gnats, horseflies, lice, mites, and other fast-mutating species, more than He loves man. This preference for more mutable life forms is charmingly depicted in Rats, Lice, and History: The Biography of a Bacillus, by Hans Zinsser (1934), the original author of the microbiology textbook still used in medical schools today. In it, Zinsser claimed lice and other microbes win more wars than armies. In any case, it offers even more proof that man has not evolved to the point where he understands how stupid he is to fight Mother Nature.
Speaking of Mother Nature, I recently finished reading The Power of Myth, by Joseph Campbell, with Bill Moyers. This book was derived from a PBS documentary aired in 1988. Campbell was a professor of comparative mythology at Sarah Lawrence College, well versed in the various beliefs around the world. He made a clear distinction between the monotheistic God as above-it-all creator; and the mother-goddess traditions in which the goddess is “within as well as without.” He claimed these earth-centered traditions placed animals equal to man and sometimes superior. As mothers generally have unconditional love for all their children, the mother-goddess traditions evolved as naturally compassionate and what we might now call “eco-friendly.”
In the “deistic” or “animistic” belief systems of the Native American mythology, for instance, the natural and supernatural worlds are intimately interconnected. While some of the ritualistic religious ceremonies may seem brutal now, they respected man’s role as a part of and totally dependent on nature’s bounty. The primary food animal of a tribe was revered, respected, and often deified. Feasting ceremonies prayed to the spirit of the animal, asking it to be re-born to provide food again.
Another of my books describes the Hopi Snake Society rain dances. In these, dancers hold rattlesnakes in their mouths, as part of the ceremony appealing for rain. The book claims cloudbursts often follow. (National Geographic Society’s Indians of the Americas, 1955).
A few years ago, Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue, responding to drought conditions, prayed for rain. His prayers were followed by torrents in the mountains which caused flooding and a couple of fatalities.
I figured he prayed to the wrong God. He should have prayed to Mother Nature, who loves all her creatures, even people, and knows that the right amount of rain at the right time and place benefits all equally.
So, for those interested in “climate change,” perhaps we need to redefine the problem and re-work the strategy, and turn thoughts toward changing the climate in more desirable ways. Even Seth of the Jane Roberts series asserts that man’s thoughts influence weather.
While I haven’t resorted to dancing with rattlesnakes, I have made appeals to Mother Nature for a milder summer, here in the swamps of Savannah. I have asked the plants and animals to join me in this weather-making experiment. My chickens seem particularly good at it. I’ve even reminded Ma Nature that it will help mosquitoes. This latest twist on “climate change” is a conversation starter and actually elicits a few smiles. That we could perhaps influence the weather in universally beneficial ways may be the stuff of science fiction today, but the concept is as inspiring as a rainbow, should you choose to believe. And, no government help required.
Down home, this summer, we have had more rain than in recent years, along with more cloud cover and more breeze. Even the little blood-suckers have held off, for reasons only known to Ma Nature, but I thank her nonetheless.