No, seriously. I can’t hurt a fly. I know it’s an expression but it my case it’s true.
I’m sure most of you will find the rest of this post a little odd. But if you have visited here before, you know that I generally can be a little odd.
Call it a strength. Or a weakness. Call it a character flaw or a compassionate heart. But I just cannot bring myself to kill anything. You would think my natural instincts would kick in: survival of the fittest, kill or be killed. I still can’t do it.
Now before you start picturing me holding a rifle with Bambi in my site and breaking down in tears because I don’t have the heart, that’s not what I’m talking about. Hunting for sport (or for meat, even) is a different matter entirely and one which deserves a post all its own.
Think, instead, about the critters all around you – warm-blooded, cold-blooded, mammalia, insecta. This is where I run into issues. If I accidentally hit a squirrel (which I’ve only done once), I am immediately devastated. I cannot stop the flow of tears. I think about that squirrel’s life. The effort and energy it took to bring that squirrel into the world. And how quickly the life was ended. Yes, I even imagine the squirrel companions that must miss their long lost friend.
It doesn’t stop there. I see a dead deer on the side of the road and I immediately mourn for the deer. It doesn’t even enter to my mind to think about the driver who must have hit it. Or the damage to their car. I’m only thinking about the loss of life. It can be overwhelming to feel that kind of burden wherever you drive.
It’s not just a burden though. I can help. My mother taught me well. She always stopped after a rain storm to help a poor turtle trying to cross the road. She took in more stray pets than I can count. She even wrecked our car once trying to avoid hitting a rabbit (that was due to the bad tires more than the rabbit). I admire her for that. In that regard, we are very much alike. And I still stop to help a turtle. So if you see a crazy lady in the middle of the road, please slow down for me.
But I can’t kill a fly. Or an ant. Or a wasp. All the less than cute, cuddly critters are still relatively safe around me. Yes, I’ve swatted a fly and stepped on a spider. I squeal every time I do it because it just feels wrong. Snakes don’t bother me. Nor do frogs, lizards, dragonflies. Even those big, ugly beetles that have been surfacing lately. I see them constantly turned over onto their backs with their legs in the air. It only takes a second to just give them a little flip. They usually flip right back over anyway.
The only thing that I can kill without a second thought or a hint of remorse is a tick. I see them as nothing more than blood-sucking leaches that serve no purpose.
Now I know I’m probably in a very small minority of people. Because there are other people out there that feel like me, right? Right? So why do I feel this way? Obviously, my mother had a impact on me. But I tried to psychoanalyze this behavior even further. Why do I personalize every encounter? Why do I project feelings on to every creature I meet? It’s not a lack of knowledge. I was a Biology major. I know all about the complexity of nervous systems and the “feelings” an animal may or may not have. I also know about animal socialization and behavior. Still, I believe in a higher power and purpose for all of us.
So I started to liken these feelings to the way we encounter people in the world around us and it started to make a lot more sense. And I found that I created a pretty good creed to live by.
- Avoid conflict whenever possible, physical or otherwise.
- Live and let live.
- If you can and are willing to, help someone in need.
- Practice compassion and empathy, even for those you do not understand.
- If you must have an unpleasant encounter, make it as quick and painless as possible.
- Understand that everyone is special to someone.
- Remember those that have left us and value their contribution.
- Be considerate to others – we all share the same space.
- Be defensive, not offensive.
- Stay away from the truly rotten people. They are always out there looking to prey on others.
Finally, simply remember that for every action, there is a reaction. Perhaps someday you’ll be the beetle on your back hoping for someone to turn you over. And please, just slow down around the squirrels, okay?