The lion sleeps tonight

« Daktari: Clarence and Judy in 1967 » CBS Television — eBay itemphoto frontphoto back. Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons

The world is a hell of a scary place to be. History is an eternal cycle and sometimes it seems like we are stuck between a rock and a hard place.

A few months ago, Ebola virus disease was devastating West Africa and threatening the Western hemisphere, mowing down more than 11,000 people. Lately, a preventive vaccine has been successfully tested. In the XIVth century, the Black Death (it might have been bulbonic plague or even as some have suggested, a virus similar to Ebola) has killed two thirds of Europe’s population. Over a span of 200 years, the plague wiped out 100 million souls from the face of Earth. At the turn of the century, the 1918/1919 influenza pandemic infected one third of the global population and killed tens of millions people.

It gives some kind of  an insight, of a perspective. We have indeed been through worse epidemic diseases before but never has the world been so small as today. When Tokyo is sneezing, New York is catching a flu. Something like the butterfly effect. Not only diseases are spreading like wild fire but also ideas.

Dark Ages in the Space Age?

Ideological contamination is nowadays a critical concern. The Age of Enlightement has indeed been overshadowed. Virus are combining and gradually gaining influence, infecting large amounts of suggestible persons. Fundamentalists are feeding on our fears like modern vampires. The so-called Islamic State is graduallly gaining on more territories, compelling populations to obedience by spreading terror. There is nothing religious nor spiritual in their actions. Just the vague idea that thought is monolithic and that whoever does not believe likewise, is not worth living. Does that ring a bell? From the XIIth century to the early 1800’s, the Inquisition -part of the judicial system of the Catholic church- tortured and killed between tens of thousands and hundreds of thousands (hard to be more accurate, some historians even claim that millions were slaughtered). Jews, Protestants, Muslims, heretics and scientists were predominantly targeted. One of the most famous victims was Galileo Galilei for sustaining that Earth revolved around the Sun.

As a consequence of fundamentalism, extreme poverty and weather disturbances, swarms of immigrants are pouring into Europe. Running away from barbarians, from misery, from the unbearable. So unbearable that they are willing to face death in the promised land. Thousands have drowned in the still blue waters of the Mediterranean Sea or hit by trucks or trains on their way to the United Kingdom.

We are all migrants

Migration is what this world is all about. Since time immemorial, people have been seeking to reach new shores and escape from death or improve their life. Just wondering… Why do we call White Westerners, expats and the others, immigrants? An estimated 80% to 90% natives in America died after the coming of Europeans. Belgian King Leopold II enslaved millions of men, women and children in Congo. The sovereign needed a colony for his country, by reason of prestige. At the Berlin Conference, Africans were apparently uninvited and Leopold II managed to convince Chancellor Bismarck to turn this important fresh new territory to his royal person, hence excluding Germany’s rivals such as Britain and France. Do not mistake me, this region was offered to Leopold II, not to the Crown and even less to the country. Congo was the King’s personnal possession. That is: a million square miles of jungle, 75 times the size of his country. In his name, unameable atrocities were committed.

Nothing new under the sun? Due to climate changes, people from the Northern hemisphere may ironically be the future migrants. In 15 years, it might be hard to find your place in the sun, especially when the sun is not shining on you. UK researchers recently warned that Earth might go through a mini ice age, due to a drop of solar magnetic activity. We may then curl up again in our beds and try to hibernate. Extreme cold weather may have our society paralyzed for a while. Or we could head South and knock on our new Heaven’s door…

Man always has the lion’s share

And while Greece is going belly-up, while millions are unemployed and  homeless, an American dentist goes on a hunting trip in Zimbabwe, becoming subject to a massive witch hunt. As goes the saying, “whoever rides on the lion’s back must surely end up in the lion’s stomach”. QED. We already knew that wealth could buy almost anything, except class and intelligence.

Man has always been a hunter but the main idea was providing food, not entertaining ourselves. In the XIXth century, bisons were almost extinct. They went from nearly 30 million in the XVIth century, down to a few hundreds in the mid-1880’s. Starting in the XIXth century, “White Hunter” or “Big Game Hunting” were mostly taking place in Africa. Back in those days, hunting was really not an issue.

So what? We were on top of the food chain and still are, right? I do not believe it gives us a licence to kill or the right to slaughter animals. Are we as humans actually worth more than animals? What are we worth anyway? Are we more or less than another living creature? On what scale? Are we more clever? Stronger? More inventive? More respectful? Or is being human a simple merit and the only condition to have a soul and a right to existence, freedom and respect as such? Hardly so nowadays. In the jungle, the mighty jungle, the lion sleeps tonight…

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