Snakes, wasps and mosquitoes

A man cannot be too careful in the choice of his enemies.
Oscar Wilde
1854 – 1900

If I asked you whether you’d prefer to be in a room with a snake, a wasp or a mosquito, which would you choose?

If you’re like most people, you don’t want to be anywhere near a snake, and wasps would likely come in second. You’d probably say, “Bring on the mosquito; it’s easy to swat.”

We know snakes can be deadly. Wasps can be deadly too, if you’re allergic to them — and even if you aren’t, their bites can be pretty painful. In comparison, the mosquito bite seems like nothing more than an irritant, a nuisance.

But — as with so many things in life — the biggest danger’s not always the one you’d expect. In the U.S., snakes account for only twelve deaths a year on average, while wasps cause between fifty and a hundred deaths annually. Mosquitoes are a different story. Worldwide, there are about 500 million cases of malaria each year, killing between one and three million people. Even though malaria is rare in the U.S., there still tend to be more deaths from mosquito borne illnesses than from snakes or wasps.

And a mosquito is a lot harder to spot than a wasp or a snake.

So how does this apply to other things in life? I think there’s a parallel. We tend to worry about big things, but it’s often the everyday things that have the greatest negative impact on our lives.

What are some of the “mosquitoes” in life: the mundane, everyday things that can really do a lot of damage? Most fast foods; physically and emotionally abusive relationships; stressful jobs; sedentary lifestyles; and poor spending habits, to name a few.

We’re generally alert for the big dangers in life, but everyday things have just as much power to hurt us. It’s smart to have a healthy respect for mosquitoes; it’s also wise to know that there are dozens of small, seemingly insignificant things that can cause great pain in the long run.

The mosquito bite seems minor, but it kills millions of people each year. Don’t overlook the everyday things that can do significant damage over time.

Success in life is founded upon attention to the small things rather than to the large things; to the every day things nearest to us rather than to the things that are remote and uncommon.
Booker T. Washington
1856 – 1915

Copyright © 2014 John Chancellor

Comments are closed.