Story type: Essay
You are standing with this writer on the edge of a stagnant pool in Northern Europe, fifty thousand years ago.
The trees are strange, the life is strange. There are certain familiar things visible. For instance, on one side of the pool there is an angry mammoth, with long hair and long tusks.
He is a huge, savage beast, monster of power with tiny, vicious eyes, and a curled trunk of unlimited force.
You recognize his resemblance to the modern elephant, and you feel at home.
In the middle of the pool, standing up to his waist in water, there is another queer creature. He has long, red hair, and through his lips you can see that in his rage he is grinding a large set of teeth with the canine incisors abnormally developed.
He is a shaggy, savage-looking brute, with a bloody and an apprehensive eye. You will recognize him as a human being.
As he stands in the pool there is a familiar slap of his right hand on the back of his left shoulder–he has killed a mosquito.
That is the picture. We leave the mammoth, primitive man and the mosquito to settle their troubles.
We call your attention to this. If you really witnessed that scene you would have undoubtedly said to the red-eyed savage in the pool:
“My friend, you can kill that mosquito easily, and possibly in time you will kill all the mosquitoes. But that MAMMOTH is a problem that you will not solve for a long time, if ever.”
Had you known that the red-eyed human animal in the middle of the pool was sent there by Providence to regulate the globe, cultivate it, destroy the noxious forms of animal life, etc., you would certainly have believed that that person would have got rid of the mosquitoes long before getting rid of the mammoth.
As a matter of fact, the mammoth has gone, the woolly rhinoceros of Northern Europe has gone, the sabre-toothed tiger prowls no more. Even wolves have disappeared, and the mosquito is still flourishing in his millions and billions.
We have only just learned that it is he who gives us malaria, that it is he who spreads yellow fever and undoubtedly many other diseases.
The human race, which in its earliest, incapable childhood easily managed to dispose of the mammoth and his huge fellow-monsters, still stands helpless before the little mosquito, deadliest of VISIBLE animals on earth.
Is it not interesting to realize that the hardest work of the human race, as of the individual, is the most minute work; that the intellect, which easily copes with the heaviest and the biggest problems, is baffled by the tiniest?
Ultimately, and perhaps soon, we shall send the mosquito, the house-fly and the other buzzing pirates to join in the grave’s silence their big brothers–the mastodon and the rest.
Then our fight will begin against invisible animal life, against the actual microbes of disease which the mosquito has been carrying around and injecting into us. It is a long fight, but, of course, we shall win it. —-
And is it not interesting, also, to reflect that in the moral, as in the physical, battles of life man requires the longest time to deal with his smallest enemies?
Morally we are still primitive savages. We are still combating murder, arson, theft–like the cave-dweller fighting the physical mammoth, we are fighting the mammoths of moral deformity.
Eventually they will disappear. Murder will be unknown, and theft, rendered unnecessary by decent social organization, will have disappeared also.
At that time we shall be fighting the smaller and more dangerous, more elusive and more persistent moral troubles–HYPOCRISY, CONCEIT, UNCHARITABLENESS. These are the mosquitoes and flies of the world of immorality that will pursue us when the big fellows–murder and theft–shall have been killed off.
Was this helpful?
0 / 0