10 Terrible Words that Shouldn’t Exist in Any Language

Digital text-illustration: 10 Terrible WordsOne person who hates is a Weapon of Mass Destruction. One who cares and shares? Perhaps the only antidote.

As I recently said to my friend Maryam: poverty—both of concrete, material resources like food and shelter, and of intellectual and ephemeral resources (education, spiritual enrichment, the arts, community engagement, etc)—seems to me to be perpetrated and perpetuated more by selfishness than by an actual shortage of any of those resources. The rich and powerful always want more riches and power, and what they do have makes them able to afford and acquire more and to keep their feet firmly on the backs of the have-nots. Plenty is never enough. The resulting imbalance is as old as history, and rotten as ever. Only those who will speak up and resist entrenched inequities and injustices will have any hope of making change.Photo montage: Wolverine & Badger

The badger and the wolverine have a reputation for being among the most tenaciously savage brutes of all the mammals. Yeah, Honey Badger even has his own meme to show for it. But let’s be honest: no beast of earth, air, or sea has a capacity for vile, rapacious cruelty rivaling that of the human animal. Even creatures of the natural enmity of predator and prey compete, fight, kill, and are sated. They have little apparent ideation of hatred and war to match people’s. A wolverine or badger will fight to defend, or to kill for food, but unlike the human, doesn’t seem inclined to attack indiscriminately outside of its primal needs for safety, shelter, and food; when the skirmish is done as efficiently as possible and the need assuaged, the sharpest of tooth and reddest of claw among them doesn’t do an end-zone dance to celebrate its pleasure in winning but will usually depart the scene or go to rest for the next time of need. The remaining food and shelter and other resources stay in place for whatever creature comes next, hunter or hunted, cousin or not.

Can we humans not learn from such a thing? I’m pretty sure that if we destroy each other and ourselves in our constant self-righteous, self-congratulatory belief that we deserve everything we can get our hands on, Honey Badger won’t be the only creature that doesn’t care.

Meeting the New Kid

Did you know that there are creatures you didn’t know you knew? Of course you knew it. After all, there’s the whole race of super-characters, multiple species like the Yeti and the Loch Ness Monster, Dracula and Tinkerbell, Wonder Woman and Wolverine peopling our universe, or at least some parallel ones, so we’re pretty well surrounded by fantastic fellow creatures if we’re willing and able to recognize them.
Digital illustration: Bumblesaurus

I think that perhaps part of the reason I’ve so long loved living so deeply in my imagination is that, having the social anxiety I’ve always dealt with when it comes to human-type people, I find I’m fond of fictional company and its many quirks and quizzical qualities. Not that I would necessarily be more masterful or even less shy in the midst of make-believe characters: I’m perfectly capable of being intimidated by the magnificence of pretend persons or frightened by the nastiness of the wicked ones just as easily as by real folk.

So you’ll forgive me if, despite his appearance of being slow-moving, benign, and perhaps a touch dim-witted yet perfectly friendly, I take my time getting to know the Bumblesaurus. He just wandered into the backyard when I wasn’t looking and made himself at home under a mulberry seedling. Yes, you got that right: he’s four centimeters long. Did I mention that I’m a nervous type? I mean, you only have to be the size of a flea to spread the plague all over Europe and kill off hordes of humans, right? I really do have to remind myself to give everyone, not least of all the Bumblesaurus, the benefit of the doubt. As they probably all do me.