Ever since I was a kid I had an aversion to killing bugs. I remember instances in middle school where I fought off kids trying to squish cockroaches. Mind you these roaches were not even indoors, they were minding their own business outside. Occasionally a teacher would pass by and see my trying to protect the bug and snicker.
Lovely attitude from Catholic school mentors, though they oft proved they had little value for animal life.
Still, I was not completely innocent. I squashed my share of mosquitos and spiders, stepped in ant hills. I never felt good about it, but I never thought of it as “killing.” I was just fighting off a nuisance.
Then in my Freshmen year of college my dorm room was invaded by ants. There were hundreds of them, crawling in through my windowsill, up and down my desk, all over my papers, eating the remnants of food in my trashcan. I didn’t give a shit about giving them a fair shake, I wanted them GONE. They frustrated me so much that I started thinking of new ways to kill them.
My go to genocide weapon was body spray. I’d identify where the ants were crawling from and drench it with the toxic substance. I’d watch them squirm in agony as they were covered in the smell of date rape. It worked. After a week of that torture they disappeared.
There were a lot of ant corpses left behind. After staring at them for a while I started to get depressed.
I suddenly imagined walking through the streets and having poison gas sprayed directly on me, or a shoe stomping down on my head, or to getting picked up by a pair of tweezers and getting all my appendages plucked off.
My sense of empathy for the bugs became so intense I felt immensely guilty for killing so many of them.
From then on I became an intense annoyance to all my roommates. They sighed and groaned as I stopped them from squishing spiders and flies so that I could scoop them up and release them outdoors.
I couldn’t help it. It seemed cruel to kill them just for trying to live.
I know that insects don’t perceive life the same way that we do, and many would scoff as nothing but a bleeding heart, but I don’t find my respect for life – any life- to be at all ridiculous. By developing empathy in that area, it became easier for me to apply it to people.
Yeah, it can be easy to lose my temper when dealing with idiots who still cling to the notion that evolution is a lie and that guns somehow PREVENT crimes from happening. Remembering that they’re people who, when faced with danger, feel the same fear and pain that I would, it’s easier to stay calm and keep the peace. Every person is trying to make this world work better, even if their method of doing so is stupid and backwards. The stronger your sense of empathy, the easier it is to remember that.
Unfortunately, I have again found myself infested with ants, and I once again have succumb to the temptation of killing them.
It’s hard to think of an alternative when hundreds of them are marching all over your counter, threatening your food, and you suddenly become paranoid that you may have eaten one or two without realizing it.
Worse yet, I can’t help but feel a certain satisfaction as I take a wet paper towel and mop them up off my floors. It’s strangely fascinating to wipe out so many only to see twice as many take their place moments later.
No, no! Shut up, Metal Gear Solid, that is not true!
I’ve gotta get rid of these things…
What are your feeling on killing bugs?