When I was a little girl, I would often wonder at the point of things.
“Why do mosquitoes exist, Mumma?” I would ask desperately, vigorously scratching at my swollen bites. Or, centrepedes? What purpose do they serve?
One of my favourite things to do as a young girl in Sydney on a Saturday afternoon was to sit and watch an episode of ‘The World Around Us,’ filling my curious little mind with educative facts about the life of various flora and fauna. If I was really lucky, it would feature a BBC programme by David Attenborough whose voice was like aural treacle to my impressionable young ears. Through such viewings, I learned to develop an understanding of the varied and intricate purposes for all of nature’s diverse minions, including gnats, earwigs and other seemingly irrelevant and irritating bugs. That each creature, however annoying or unimportant it may seem, played a part in the grand biological scheme of things.
If only such an explanation could be applied to people. I have yet to understand the biological or even the cosmological underpinnings of why the world plays host to such a wondrous collection of gits. My letting agent for example – what’s the purpose of that idiot? A truly unpleasant individual; obtuse, obstinate and dim-witted. Truly. And I say that without a hint of malice – it is simply fact. If even earwigs have a biological function, then what is Lea’s? It certainly isn’t to provide appropriate tenants for affordable housing. And if it is that is indeed a sad indictment as she stinks at her job.
I often find myself projecting my mind into the lives of such people. Okay, I think, perhaps my assessment of her is discoloured. Perhaps she just hates her job. So I start to consider… what would Lea do outside the repressive realms of real estate? Her prickly, self-serving character makes me think she can’t be a very loyal or considerate friend, so that’s out. I can’t imagine she makes a good mother because after all, what could a child learn from her except how to be an annoying dullard. She’s certainly not the charitable type so she can’t be contributing to the community. And the mind begins to reel.
You may think me harsh, but there are thousands of Lea’s in this world. Thousands of mean-spirited, carping, difficult people whose purpose seems inexplicable. But perhaps I am putting too much stock in the concept of purpose. Nature has always sort balance within its framework, which in and of itself gives meaning and purpose to its components. People, like cane toads have expanded outside that framework. We have created such an imbalance that biological purpose has dissipated from the equation.
It’s a frightening thought but one worth bearing in mind. Next time you find yourself swatting at flies and wondering why they exist, consider how many idiots you encounter in a day – their purpose is far less justified.
Illustration courtesy of Louise Kulzer