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Nuanced Thinking

by Shehnaz Gujral
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As a planet, we have witnessed the endangered as well as extinct species. Dinosaurs, the strongest of the carnivores went extinct about 65 million years ago after living on Earth for about 165 million years. No matter how powerful or ferocious any living being is, yet it cannot escape the fangs of time. But exceptions are always there.

There is one such infamous pest which can make women shriek even in the most elite get-togethers and men shiver at its crawl on their skin. Sundar Pichai, Google CEO in his inspirational speech spoke about the Cockroach Theory. Cockroaches outlive everything. The cockroaches are an ancient group, dating back at least as far as, the Carboniferous period, some 320 million years ago. Cockroaches are abundant throughout the world and live in a wide range of environments, especially in the tropics and subtropics. They can withstand extremely low temperatures, allowing them to live in the Arctic. Some species are capable of surviving temperatures of −122 °C. This obnoxious pest can surely be our life coach and help us unfold the mysteries of life. Cockroaches are modern-day alchemists as they make history alive and breathable. The secret to survival is adaptation.

Their mantra is: Mind your own business. Unlike humans, who believe in divisions based on castes, religion, race and class; cockroaches have an elaborate social structure involving common shelter, social dependence, information transfer and kin recognition. They stand united without any ego, hatred or insecurity to their kinfolks. These social insects practise cooperation and follow group decision-making to any dangers they foresee. It is the trust amongst themselves which has helped them survive for millions of years. Cockroaches appear to use just two pieces of information to decide where to go, namely how dark it is and how many other cockroaches there are. The clandestine to their longevity is the motto: United we stand, divided we fall. Darwin’s theory of Survival of the fittest goes well with these creatures. They know that light is perilous for them, thus they have changed their body clocks.

When man is asleep, they take over the kitchen, closets and wash rooms. They feed on the left-overs and dust bins. Infuriated at the site of this pest, man tries repellents and sprays to clear out this scavenging insect. Gosh! Man fails umpteen times and tries to outfox this mighty insect at the odd hours of night with spray attacks and food traps. Survival tactics surpass the futile efforts of self- proclaimed intelligentsia. Eliminating a cockroach infestation is the most herculean task. It is time to reflect and absorb lessons from an ordinary pest who has shown extra ordinary behaviours ever since time immemorial. If we try to bridge the abyss in unison, filling the cracks and cuts of prejudice, inequality and unsecular diffidence, our tribe too will flourish as the most humane humans.

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