There is a tendency among some to hold a notion that nature is always beautiful, benign and a joy to behold. This notion is often prevalent among latter day hippy style females. Their notion is a daydream. A fantasy in actual fact. For while there is indeed much beauty to be found in nature, nature can just as easily be a cruel, harsh and unforgiving. For every cute little flower that the aforementioned hippy sniffs in a field there are 100 examples of when nature can be flat out macabre.
We tend to forget that since we are but a product of nature that what exists in nature also exists in humanity. Just as there are those in the human natural word who are a thing of beauty and a joy to behold, so too are there those who are cruel and macabre.
Moreover the concepts that can be found in nature can just as easily be found in human nature. The predator exists among mankind as much as it does in many thousands of other species. And so does the parasite. I give you the little known Pepsis Wasp. This is no ordinary wasp. I know no one likes UK wasps but believe me, this Pepsis Wasp has a whole bag of weirdness that makes your British wasp seem warm and cuddly.
For a start it is almost jet black. For some reason that says “Bad Ass” right there. Only a wasp with a serious attitude would decide to go with all black garb. Then there’s the size. These can get pretty large for a wasp – in the region of 2 inches or more. The stinger alone is a not to be sniffed at 1/4 of an inch. On the upside they are native to Asia and Africa. Not much chance of seeing one in Burnley or Airdrie. Also on the upside they won’t usually sting unless provoked.
That’s where the good news ends. The bad news is that if they do sting it is said to be extremely painful.
One researcher described the pain as
“ immediate, excruciating pain that simply shuts down one’s ability to do anything, except, perhaps, scream. Mental discipline simply does not work in these situations.” In terms of scale, the wasp’s sting is rated near the top of the Schmidt sting pain index, second only to that of the bullet ant, and is described by Schmidt as “blinding, fierce shockingly electric”
It gets worse. The Pepsis Wasp doesn’t eat other insects. Its much more bizarre. It seeks out large spiders, usually tarantulas. Despite being many times smaller than the Tarantula and despite the spider being a seemingly high risk opponent the wasp goes out of its way to seek them out. When it finds one it stings it. The sting does not kill the spider as you might expect. Instead it places the spider into a state of paralysis. The spider is dragged off to the burrow of the wasp and it is still alive. The wasp lays a single egg in the spider.
“the wasp stings and paralyzes a tarantula, then drags the specimen to a specially prepared brooding nest, where a single egg is laid on the spiders abdomen, and the entrance is covered.Sex of the larvae is determined by fertilisation; fertilised eggs produce females while unfertilised eggs produce males. When the wasp larva hatches, it creates a small hole in the spider’s abdomen, then enters and feeds voraciously, avoiding vital organs for as long as possible to keep the spider alive…”
Probably about as good as an example of any as to the often brutal side of nature. The only saving grace in this instance is that the spider does not have a sense of consciousness in the way that we perceive such things.
A parallel can be drawn between the above example and a cycle which exists in human society. Let’s say the body of the spider is represented by your town or neighbourhood. Let’s say the Pepsis wasp represents all the cruel, macabre, deviant and dangerous people out there – such as our two most loved brothers. What these people have collectively managed to do is “sting” the “body” of society. In doing so they have paralysed it. And now they are eating it from the inside out. Our situation is worse though for when human society is paralysed they are aware of their own trauma and pain.
There is a difference. The Pepsis wasp does not choose to be how it is. As cruel as it may seem to us it did not make a conscious choice to be what it is. People do not have that excuse. The brothers made a conscious choice. It was also not a key part of their survival to do that unlike the wasp. There is another difference. The Tarantula does not have it in its locker to think beyond what it is. It cannot defend itself against that specific wasp since that specific wasp has evolved a technique to get under it and sting it. The tarantula has no choice but to always remain vulnerable to that species.
However, if the spider were able to think and to create then it would change the entire dynamic. It’s larger and has potent venom. It has the tools to make light work of that wasp. It just doesn’t have the brain to figure out how to do it. If it could do so it would. Human society does not have that excuse. We can create. We can neutralise threats by way of imagination and will. We can take measures to protect ourselves and defeat predators.
We would not afford Bandy and Fanny an excuse for their actions.
Let’s not then afford our own selves an excuse for our own inactions.