I confess that I can’t recall giving much thought as to whether or not cockroaches experience anxiety. But, having pondered it now for several seconds, my conclusion is that they do not. In the interest of blogging integrity, I must also confess that I have not a single shred of empirical evidence to offer in support of that claim, but I’m making it anyway. I figure that since multitudes of liberal minded college professors make nonsensical and unfounded claims every day, I should be able to invoke the same privilege. At least I’m not being paid to present my random conclusions as absolute facts to bright-eyed college students (well, OK…, ‘bright-eyed’ might be a little hasty. That could depend on how late they were up, whether they had a healthy breakfast, and what they have or have not been smoking).
But if cockroaches do worry about stuff, and if they happen to live in the Mekong Delta region of Thailand, they have a whole new reason to develop panic attacks. Case in point … a heretofore undiscovered wasp whose venom turns cockroaches into little cockroach zombies has been identified in that region. The wasp injects its zombie-inducing drug directly into a bunch of brain neurons the roach happens to have in its belly. Hmmm…. My research didn’t reveal exactly what a cockroach is doing running around carrying its brains in its belly, but I’m sure it has a good reason. Now that I think about it, I had a buddy in school once who might have been doing that.
In any case, the wasp, dubbed the Ampulex Dementor by its discoverers, flies around until it spots a juicy, unsuspecting cockroach. Then it zooms down and zaps its poison into the hapless bug’s ‘brain’ and after that, the roach is pretty much history. The poison doesn’t kill it instantly, so the roach remains officially ‘alive’, but it loses its ability to control its own movements. Once the venom is injected, the wasp assumes total control and can calmly drag its prey off to some secluded place and munch on it at its leisure until there’s nothing left. Then it flies off in search of another living, defenseless meal.
It’s a zombie story, but with a twist. In our zombie movies, it’s generally the zombies who incite fear, but if this little drama was turned into a zombie movie for bugs, the zombies wouldn’t be the ones terrorizing everyone. It would be the dreaded zombie-makers. The zombie bugs themselves would only evoke compassion—a fact, by the way, that would doom the production for human audiences, because, let’s face it, who could manage to dredge up pity for a cockroach.
As fascinating as the whole cockroach zombie-making wasp drama might be, I really don’t feel drawn toward any of the characters. Truth is, I’d be happy to conclude their entire performance with a can of bug spray, but there’s something here more fascinating to me than a brief excursion into ‘bug-world’. Two things arrest my attention. First, that there are human beings intently watching these bugs and reporting on what they do, and then the compelling realization that when human beings are watching His creation, God will capture the opportunity to speak, even if the subject happens to turn to zombies.
Apparently, the notion of dead people being somehow reanimated and/or living ones being transformed into such creatures has had a macabre appeal to people in every generation. The extensive list of zombie movies goes all the way back to 1932, and the genre grew to include hundreds of screenplays, books, short stories, stage productions, and video games. Perhaps more surprising than that is the fact that God addressed a similar kind of issue nearly 2,000 years ago.
The Bible refers to unbelievers, for instance, as being “dead in trespasses and sins” (Eph. 2:1, 5; Col. 2:13 NKJV). Then, certain widows who were devoting their lives to the pursuit of pleasure are described as being “dead while [they] live” (I Tim. 5:6). Descriptions like that conjure up images that could easily slip into the whole zombie idea. When you have a human being in a ‘dead-but-sort-of-living’ state, and who is motivated and guided by some malicious set of internal appetites, you have a zombie-like characteristics.
I wouldn’t suggest that those who reject God and His truth are like those zombies in the movies, or the hapless cockroaches, but there are similarities worth considering. After all, we do have an enemy in the culture surrounding us whose desire is to do to people something like what that Asian wasp does to the cockroach. He has a ‘venom’ that once injected into our brains can render us virtually as helpless and doomed as the cockroach. His deadly potion is a mixture of our natural desire for pleasure, blended with a combination of deceptive philosophies, false premises, and loads of empty promises. The toxic effects of the poison can render the victim unable to resist the self-destructive attitudes and behaviors associated with the false assumptions planted in their brain. The assault may not be instantly lethal, but it prevents reactions designed for self-protection and preservation. With those defenses disabled, the enemy is free to suck the life out of his victim until nothing remains but a dead, empty shell. Frightening thought, isn’t it?
Of course, we’re not a bunch of darkness-loving, disease-spreading, scavenging consumers of garbage who run around carrying our brains around in places we shouldn’t, like a cockroach… Oh wait. Maybe I should re-think that. But regardless, we can take heart, because we have something the cockroach doesn’t have. We have a Savior with an antidote.
A fascinating thing about antidotes is that they are often created by exposing a healthy host to a dose of the lethal substance itself. Ideally, antibodies which are able to attack and subdue the toxic invaders can then be manufactured within the body of the one exposed. The blood of the host that was attacked and survived then becomes the means of saving others. Jesus Christ absorbed the full effect of all the poison our adversary could produce and overcame it, and His blood is sufficient to neutralize the enemy’s entire arsenal.
I don’t really care about cockroaches and zombies, or the dangers they face, but I do get concerned about the fate of people who act like them, and who don’t know that there’s an antidote.
© 2015 Gallagher’s Pen, Ronald L. Gallagher, Ed.S. All rights reserved.
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