“Everybody in America is so money-hungry. It’s like a rat race and even when you win you’re still a freaking rat.” Mike Tyson
Welcome to 2020! I hope that you have had a debaucherous holiday season filled with cocktails and friends, and that you are ready to settle into what is sure to be a much needed collective existential crisis. You probably want to stop reading right now and order another margarita.
I was attempting to write something inspirational for my first editorial of this decade, but everything was coming out kind of dire and pessimistic. If you are a regular reader then you know our January issue’s theme has followed the Chinese New Year for the past few seasons. Always met with a groan at first by our writers – “Chickens? what can we say about chickens?” – a lot apparently, and this year’s ‘Rat’ has been no different.
Rats are easy to dislike, having come to mean traitors or snitches. Partly this is due to their bad reputation as filthy and deadly creatures, and also because rats will flee sinking ships and collapsing houses, giving the impression of abandonment. My father was an animal behavior psychologist who often had to go to his university office on the weekends to feed the rats and run them through a maze because, while they are easy to dislike, rats are the top choice for experimentation due to their anatomical, physiological, and genetic similarity to humans. In fact, rats have a counterpart to every known human gene associated with disease. A 2013 study also showed that rats – and not their mouse colleagues – were capable of exhibiting the full range of Alzheimer’s brain changes.
As I write this, it was announced that the bad boy up north has been impeached, but one has to wonder if anything will change or if it will even stick. I am amazed at the number of business people I know who say he is all right and don’t appear to have an issue with the erosion of human rights as long as the economy is doing well. Who are we and what are our values when, as a culture, we find justification for immigration detention camps lining the border of one of our world’s most powerful nations.
Every day you make decisions that ultimately say something about who you are, from your purchases, your food choices, your comments on social media, even which media you choose to ingest. So who are you and what do your actions illustrate about your values?
Let’s be better than rats this year!
See you next month,