Of Cockroaches and Kings
By Eliezer Cohen
Back in the late '60's, I had a friend who was a real peace-nik. This was the time of the free speech movement and the beatniks and the hippies, smoking pot and taking LSD. Everyone was getting more into the counter culture and out of the mainstream. Ron was one of these souls.
He moved out of a middle class environment and rented a really run down apartment in an area that could only be described as pre-slum removal property. Ron, being very idealistic had dropped out of college, left a promising career in business and took up art.
Being extremely dedicated to the anti-materialistic feelings of those dedicated souls who spent the day talking peace and the night smoking pot, living in a dilapidated house in a neglected neighborhood suited his new life style.
Ron not only believed in pacifism, free love, anarchy, and pot, he believed that it was immoral to kill any living creature. Now at this period of time, it all made so much sense. The frequent pot parties with his hippie friends, the anti Vietnam rallies, the carefree love-is-all attitude suited him fine. Together with his avant-garde paintings, which he hung proudly on his wall, and his neo casual "pad" with mattresses strewn along the wall for friends to crash on at convenient occasions, Ron was right in with the philosophy of the day.
He had only one problem - cockroaches. The apartment was full of cockroaches. Ron could not spray like normal people because that would mean killing G-d's creations. According to Ron, himself, "who says that we have the right to kill anything? It is only our ego that tells us that we are better than the cockroaches."
Ron tried for a long time to make peace with the cockroaches. First, he tried leaving out food for them to enjoy and infestate, sort of sharing the wealth. He had hoped that they would stay out of his cabinets and off of his dishes. As a dedicated pacifist, Ron tried to pacify the cockroaches by giving them a generous portion of food that was certainly more than enough for them to feast on.
But this brought him no peace or relief from cupboard invasions. As a matter of fact, Ron began to see an increase in the cockroach population. Perhaps the generous offer of a daily morsel left out in a conspicuous place either stimulated the cockroaches' reproductive abilities or they were inviting friends and family over to dine. Either, or, - or both, the situation was not improving.
Whereas Ron touted living at peace with all of G-d's creations, he really meant in a non-intrusive manner, not in sharing one's domicile with filth laden insects.
The second strategy that Ron tried was impounding all food in sealed containers. Ron became fastidious in trying to keep his kitchen clean. "If they refuse to recognize me as the legal rent paying possessor of this property, I will not give them any food! Let them fend for themselves," he snickered, "...in some one else's home."
This did not help, since the cockroaches attacked the dishes in the sink, the open cereal box and even extended their range of dominion to the bathroom.
Ron was observably dour. His peaceful disposition took a sour turn. He became obsessed with denying the cockroaches any peace of mind. His painting sessions became spying sessions in which he would spot two or three cockroaches scurrying across the floor. Abandoning his futuristic masterpiece, he would run after them with a dust pan, scooping them up with the accuracy of a short stop napping a runner off of base and dump the captured roaches outside his threshold. "Out you ungrateful vermin!" he sneered, slamming the front door. "Find another home!"
Yet, in spite of the extra-human effort to stop the roaches from raiding his pantry, Ron's efforts were in vain. For not only did the roach population increase, their daring extended into nightly sorties into Ron's dressers and even his bed. Ron became so pre-occupied with his in house situation, that his social life began to suffer.
The girls, who found Ron so attractive, became secondary to his Roach obsession. His friends ceased to visit him because he could not concentrate on a conversation. His eye was constantly on the look out for roaches. He became an expert on cockroaches, reading all the available books from the library about them.
No one seemed to enjoy inviting Ron to parties; he looked haggard and worn.
Truthfully, I dropped my connection with Ron also about this time. I never heard from him. I later moved away from that state, to a new job, to new interests and eventually I arrived in Israel.
Often, I muse back to those college days in the '60's and wonder what ever became of my former friends. I think about Ron and wonder what ever became of him and his proclaimed peace with the cockroaches.
Could someone really be so crazy to attempt what Ron did? Yes, it is a true story. But now I live in Israel, and the story of Ron and the cockroaches seems to be repeating.
Can the Israeli government really believe that it could make peace with a group of cockroaches who have made it their goal to destroy the nation of Israel? When they tried giving land for peace and got intifada instead, did they not realize something was wrong? If Arafat is a terrorist, why don't the Israelis either eliminate him and his cronies before they eliminate us or stand him for trial and show the world their evidence?
Do they really believe that they can eradicate terrorism by stopping a few bomb laden mad men who come into Israel proper but choosing to ignore the rapidly expanding roach nest infestation? Do they really believe that stopping the inflow of Palestinian terrorists into Israel will dampen their zest and vigor to kill us? Why don't they stop the organizers of the terror instead of the terrorist whom they produce?
Perhaps Ron also made aliyah to Israel and is working in the government?
from the July 2002 Edition of the Jewish Magazine