The human parasite

by Will Brendza

The human race has considered itself many things since we achieved self-awareness. And truly our race has proven to fit numerous occupations – from animal domesticators to harnessers of energy, explorers, scholars, farmers, and artists.

Over the millennia we spread from one continent to the next, braving the seas and traversing mountain ranges or great deserts in search of new lands and more resources. We took everything we could along the way – anything we needed … and even more.

No other beast, no matter how savage and violent in nature, no matter how filthy or stupid, has even come close to ravaging the Earth as we have. For 10,000 years we played by the rules of Mother Nature, hunting and gathering nomadically travelling from place to place, living off the fat of the land and never depleting any one resource too much. Our existence was in harmony with the natural world.

Then we put down roots. Some clever bastard figured out how to stuff seeds in the ground and sit on his ass until food popped out, and provoked the Neolithic revolution. It’s all been downhill from there:

We started farming and logging and domesticating anything we could tie a rope around and before we even realized it we’d becoming something other than natural. Humans even consider themselves as separate from nature.  We have for a long time.

So what are we? When I heard the sagely comedian Joe Rogan describe humans as a cancer on the Earth I thought he almost hit the nail on the head. The modern city is – for all intents and purposes – a living creature of sorts. Something that needs energy to survive, produces gaseous and solid waste, and is made up of countless little cells that keep it running – Us. We keep these malignancies pumping carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide and ozone into our atmospheres – we demand energy in form of oil and electricity and burger meat or chicken wings.

 But I don’t think human beings are a cancer. I think we’re a parasite.

 Any organism that lives within or on top of another organism (its host) from the body of which it obtains nutriment and protection necessary to survive and even thrive. That’s a parasite. But it might as well be a description of humanity on Earth.

 But our host’s immune system is starting to kick in. We’ve given ourselves away - temperatures are climbing, oceans are rising, extinctions are commonplace, garbage is everywhere …  We have been poor guests in paradise.

 Of course none of this is to suggest we return to hunting and gathering, living the life of vagrant nomads. It could never be done. Not with 7 billion people and a planet’s worth of infrastructure and weaponry. Chaos would abide.

But we don’t have to be a bad parasite. We can change our ways.

Within our human bodies live variety of “good parasites” – and many of them perform positive functions like preventing colon cancer and obesity, synthesizing vitamins and protecting us from infections by pathogenic microorganisms. We are each a planet unto ourselves!

My point is: we should try to clean up after ourselves a little bit. Maybe even give back to Earth in some way or another once in a while. We don’t have to be sloppy filthy greedy and rude guests. We can live in harmony with our planet host, Mother Earth, in the same way “good parasites” live in harmony with human beings.

Will Brendza