As a kid, I traded the comfort of a hometown for the life of a military dependent, beginning with my birth in Japan. Along the way, we lived in Okinawa, an island in the Ryukyu chain, running south from mainland Japan. This island is populated by a deadly snake with the moniker Habu. Venomous snakes are generally not well thought of and the Habu can deliver a nasty bite with dire consequences. It’s natural enemy is a rodent known as a Mongoose. This weasel looking little guy is lightening quick and ferocious when he confronts a Habu. The locals in Okinawa often stage fights between these two sworn enemies, a spectacle you will not soon forget. Blood flies and the snake is usually vanquished.
The snake relies on quickness, venom and constricture to win the fight, while the mongoose is cunning, lightening quick and possesses a sharp set of teeth. It helps that Habu venom has little effect on the rodent. I have witnessed one of these fights and absolutely did not enjoy it, but can attest to the ferocity of the little mongoose as he dispatched the snake. The natives know that a well rested mongoose is going to to be deep trouble for the snake so they up the odds by increasing the threat to the Mongoose by placing two or more snakes in the pit with him. This gins up interest in paying to watch the spectacle. I am guessing there is a certain number of snakes that it takes to destroy the mongoose, but am not privileged to that number. Suffice to say, a Mongoose is not welcome in a den of Habu’s and the meeting is going to end fatally for one of the critters. Clearly, a nest of Habu’s will figure out a way to destroy the intruding little Mongoose. It is the natural order of things.
Nature teaches us that upsetting the natural order of things usually doesn’t end well. In the case of these two natural enemies, neither one would make a good pet as an astute person would never turn his back on them. If forced to have one in your home, you would likely die from sleep deprivation, induced by sleeping with one eye always open. For the life of me, I see little value in poisonous snakes and am sure the Mongoose was created to manage snake populations. I can also attest to the fact that a Mongoose does not back down from a snake and can be depended upon to fight like hell when confronted. While it’s mission is honorable, the style and nastiness of the method leaves something to be desired if you are the slightest bit squeamish. The diminutive little guy knows no fear and intimidates any snake he encounters, unless of course, the snakes have superior numbers. In Okinawa, experienced Mongooses are revered, snakes not so much. One last point, there are far more snakes than Mongooses.
I like analogies and this missive is intended as such. You have to admire the courage of a Mongoose when he encounters a snake(s) and steels himself for the fight. There are those that wager on the rodent and those that wager on the snake, but the snake bettors seldom will place money on a even competition. They operate best when they are in a nest which multiplies their deadly tendencies. I’ll leave it to the reader to humanize this analogy and match it to the times. Who are the snakes? Who is the Mongoose? Who are the spectators? What happens when the snakes prevail? What happens when the Mongoose prevails? Where is the arena? Which critter do you want to live with? We can learn from the Habu and the Mongoose. I know that I have.
Enjoy the weekend!