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The Survival Game

It’s better to be a bit stupid, than a bit smart — proverb

Hendrick Goltzius (1558–1617) - Ovid’s Metamorphoses-Jupiter - King Lycaon

Once upon a time, a very, very long time ago, high above the planet Earth, a bunch of jaded gods sat around on clouds (or wherever), shooting the breeze, doing nothing, “dying” of boredom. They desperately needed some entertainment, but couldn’t come up with the right idea. Back in those days they didn’t have TV, Internet, games, streaming services…

Hours passed, and they were getting more bored, by the minute. They tried different games, but quickly found them lacking in entertainment value. That is, till one of them proposed a new game:

Hey, let’s play a game - he said.

Go on, what’s the game about? - replied others, mildly interested.

Well, how about each of us make a creature, and puts it down to Earth.

Hmm, sounds interesting. What are the rules? Who wins?

The rules are simple. You design a creature, it has to be autonomous, has to fend for itself without your help. It can also multiply and organize. The creature that survives the longest - wins - explained the proposer.

How long would the game last? - asked other gods.

Till there are no other creatures left on Earth.

So, now very interested gods started designing their creatures diligently. Hours passed in tedious work - at least they weren’t bored anymore. After six or so days (pun intended 😄), they decided that they were ready.

There were a wide variety of creatures: some very familiar to us (lions, tigers, elephants, sharks, orcas), some that went extinct a long time ago (dinosaurs), some that never existed (dragons, griffins, unicorns). They were all proud of their creations, and they all presented them with utmost joy. The common theme was to make your creature strong, armed (tooth, claws, armor, thick skin), fast, that reproduces quickly. Most of the gods did a very good job.

When the turn to present his creature came to one particular god - who probably was still bored and didn’t pay much attention - he presented a very unusual creature: it was almost naked, had no strength, no speed, no protection, wasn’t armed properly, and took a long time to reproduce.

Other gods were amused.

Hmm, what is this? - they asked.

Well, it’s human - he replied.

We see. How is it going to win the game of survival?

I gave it a very large brain.

Brain? What for? How’s that going to give it any advantage?

I don’t know, I was just trying something different - asserted bored god, slightly annoyed by this line of questioning.

After a bit of deliberation, they decided to start the game and put all of their creatures down to Earth. So the history of life on Earth began. Most of the creatures started fighting each other immediately, some fled, some were so big that no other creature could touch them. After a while, they established very complex relationships.

Gods were disappointed that the game didn’t develop at a quicker pace, but decided to let it take its course, and to check it from time to time. It was bound to be a long-lasting game, but they didn’t have anything better to do, anyways.

So, the game ensued. Some species were winning initially, only to be upended and replaced by others. But, the main objective of the game - the last creature remaining on Earth - couldn’t be accomplished that easily. Some creatures were on the brink of winning (dinosaurs), only to have some unexpected s**t happen to them. God who created them was suspicious of foul play, but couldn’t prove it.

It went back and forth for a looong time, and it was a stalemate. Gods weren’t pleased, but were dedicated to finishing the game, this way or the other.

The human? All this time it was hiding, petrified by all these monsters around, surviving on scraps left over by other creatures. But… survive it did.

After a while, humans started mimicking other creatures, their fangs, claws, fur. They had a few lucky breaks (removal of some other creatures, the discovery of fire), above all - due to its large brain and being somewhat protected from other creatures - humans developed a language, abstract thinking, social hierarchies. In a very short period of time humans became the dominant creatures on Earth and the other creatures started to fear it. For a good reason.

Gods still weren’t pleased with the game, but by now they were curious to see how it’d end, and who’d ultimately win: did I mention that they had a lot of time on their hands?

Fast-forward to the present day. The game is still going, and human is “winning bigly”, by all accounts. It managed to extinguish a lot of other creatures, to decimate those that remain, by destroying their living space, their food supply, the air they breathe, spoiling the waters.

Since they didn’t have to worry about other creatures anymore, they turned on each other. The motive was always the same - they wanted what others have. They invented more and more efficient ways to destroy each other, and all other life on planet Earth.

Some of the gods got disinterested, some were terrified and wanted to end the game, before it destroyed the planet. This debate is still going on. For now.

How the game would end? Who’s going to win? Does it matter? Was the game flawed from the beginning? Can the gods (or humans) stop it?

Remains to be seen…

Meanwhile, there are life forms on Earth that couldn’t care less about the game, and who wins it. What are they? Look under the microscope, please?

Bootleg Humor Since 1720

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