Whack-a-mole world | Inquirer Opinion

Whack-a-mole world

/ 05:06 AM December 10, 2021

Never has our world been as surreal as it is now.

We are under threat as we have never been. Microscopic, climatic, hegemonic, and systemic, each threat is deadly and far-reaching.


The nature of discourse regarding these threats is not any better. What is real? What is not? What is manipulation and what is explanation? Whom to believe and whom not to? Conflicting claims increase uncertainty and do not contribute to a clear picture of what the problems are and what to do about them.

Trying to cope with this surreal situation is like playing whack-a-mole, the arcade game where the player tries to hit whichever mole randomly pops in and out of the holes on the game board. It is a test of speed and eye-hand coordination, and actually a good release for anyone who wants to whack something. But it can also end up frustrating the player even more, as one tries to keep up and whack them all.


I suppose that is how a frustrated President Duterte felt when he said how he wished he could just shoot Omicron, the latest “variant of concern” of the COVID-19 virus. But that is like nuking a black hole or wishing for the moon. It won’t work, because the problem and the proposed solution are on different levels of reality, unless of course the President is thinking of literally eliminating the COVID-19-infected.

As if the threat of the pandemic isn’t big enough, there’s the threat of accelerating climate change, the threat of another world war, and the threat of our rotten political system.

Which mole do we whack, when, with what?

Despite the world’s best efforts, the virus keeps on mutating and popping up all over. Many countries have resolved to live with it and not anymore try to eliminate it entirely. This is the best course. Let’s not try to whack it anymore. Let’s just sidestep it. Modern medicine can deal with it at the cellular level, but the lasting solution can only be behavior modification—from regular mask-wearing to strengthening our natural immunity. The virus will never be any deadlier than it already is. It is too smart to kill all its hosts, because otherwise it too will die.

Climate change we cannot whack. The climate is always changing and it is only the speed that varies. Like any life form, we can just adapt to or mitigate its harmful effects. Destructive storms, raging wildfires, desertification, and rising sea levels are all part of a planet impacted by human activity.

And never has the world been as close to another global shooting war as it is now. Hegemonic powers armed to the gills with weapons of mass destruction are walking the tightrope of occupation and intimidation. This time it will be us humans who will get whacked. But maybe we need war to bring us down, to make us realize how mistaken we are and that we need each other to survive. Except that this time there may not be another chance for peaceful coexistence or the survival of the human race.

Then there’s our political system, about which one cannot say enough in disgust and reproof. One example of its opportunistic nature is the abuse of the party list system, where any Juan, Pedro, and Maria sector can seek representation. The system has been twisted to a point where the so-called representatives have nothing to do with the sector at all. Who else, then, are the directly-elected district representatives left to represent? Only themselves? That is not far from the truth, come to think of it.


Another example is this bunch of politicians not knowing what to do with themselves and what they want (except that they just want to cling to power, of course), popping in and out of holes, exactly like moles, and making a mockery of the electoral process.

It is a world that beggars belief and even comprehension. It is a world where shooting viruses might not be such a dumb idea after all. Go whack a mole. Have fun.


Roderick Toledo is a freelance communication projects manager.

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