What would you say is the most dangerous animal on Earth? Sharks? Snakes? Humans?
In some ways the answer depends on how you define dangerous. Surfers around Australia are pretty concerned about sharks at the moment but if you’re deciding according to how many people are killed by an animal every year then the answer isn’t any of the above. It’s mosquitoes. When it comes to killing humans no other animal even comes close. Sharks kill about 10 people per year around the world. Crocodiles kill about 1000. Humans kill about 475,000 people through crime and wars but according to the U.N. World Health Organisation the mosquito kills 750,000 people every year.
As you probably already know we are in the midst of a plague of mosquitoes. Pools of stagnant water, left behind from the recent rain and floods, have become ideal breeding grounds for mosquitoes. It’s hard to venture out without having to fight off the constant attack from these buzzing, biting pests.
The other day I made the mistake of going out to spray some weeds on the tractor without thinking about mosquitoes. After stopping to open a gate I inadvertently left the door of the tractor open. After I returned to the tractor the cabin was full of mosquitoes. I opened the side windows to shoo them out but only succeeded in letting more in. At this point I felt like the man in the old advertisement who puts his arm into a glass box full of mosquitoes to demonstrate the effectiveness of a repellent with before and after scenes. Except I was in the “before” scene and it wasn’t just my arm, it was me! I drove back to base as quickly as I could, arms flailing madly as I tried to swat away the mosquitoes and not faint for loss of blood.
There is a saying that goes, “If you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito.” We tend to underestimate things based on their appearance. We might think that because something or someone is small, they are powerless and inferior like a mosquito. Underestimating someone’s abilities because of their appearance is silly. We should acknowledge people for their inner qualities and not for their exterior appearance or the first impression they make.
“If you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito.”
Jesus often used small and insignificant things to describe how God works in the world. He spoke of children (powerless, fragile, dependent, no vote, no wealth) as being at the heart of the gospel. The recent ABC Four Corners report ‘The Forgotten Children’ told the story of the more than 100 refugee children who are living on Nauru, recognised as refugees and released from detention but trapped in a legal limbo. Amnesty International has condemned Australia’s offshore detention regime on Nauru as an “open-air prison” and akin to “torture”. It is an important story because it is a cancer eating away at our moral compass. Jesus said, “It is inevitable that stumbling blocks will come, but woe to the one through whom they come! It would be better for him to have a millstone hung around his neck and to be thrown into the sea than to cause one of these little ones to stumble.” Luke 17:1-2
But Jesus also talked of the power of faith that was no bigger than a mustard seed being able to move mountains. Like the mosquito, it’s a good reminder to all of us who see something wrong and want to change it but feel that our small voice or action will not make a difference.
This is the gospel, and it’s good news.
Brian Spencer, Minister