A Bug’s Life

I saw them the first time in a Prince Valiant comic; Jain monks sweeping the ground ahead of them so as to not step on an insect. Here I must reconcile myself with the thousand remnants of tiny bodies plastered upon the windshield of my car. I am struck by the fact that the essence of my life is death. Much has to die in order that I might live.

Perhaps a resistance to killing insects may sound a little extreme, but death always has unforeseen consequences. For example, the collateral damage from insecticides and such. I wonder too if we would be less likely to do violence to each other if we were more conscious of the violence perpetrated to all creatures. All things are connected and each death however small somehow lessens me and the life in the world.

Has anyone ever heard of a butterfly swatter? Yet somehow the fly is considered less then the butterfly, the maggot below the caterpillar. Each has its special purpose upon the earth.

It is fear: My wife is allergic to bees and so I have gone on a rampage against any and all wasps and such out of my fear of the POSSIBILITY that she might get stung again and die. No matter how many bees I kill I cannot be with her every second of every day so I must TRUST that she will be okay and not let my worries about DEATH cause me to kill. It is neglect: The carpenter bees have decimated the eaves on one side of the house because I did not re-stain the boards or fill in the holes from last year. So I wipe them out this summer and leave their black bodies writhing in the mulch. It is the avoidance of pain: What is it about the buzzing of bees that makes me cringe?

How do I live my life in a way that minimizes death and/or at least acknowledges the lives given for mine each day? When I pass on, will the scales of my life weigh more towards LIFE than DEATH?

For now I am stuck in the quandary of modernity but I will continue to capture spiders in paper cups and take them outside the house. I will still cry when I run over a rattler in the backyard with the mower. I will wince when a butterfly hits the windshield. I will continue to try to ignore the spider webs throughout the house.

Perhaps I will become a vegetarian. Perhaps I will trade in my car for a horse and buggy or hiking boots or a bike. Maybe I’ll join the Amish. (Or the Urban Amish?)

I’ll probably still squish roaches (even though I could learn from them because scientists say they will probably be one of the few creatures to survive a nuclear war). Oh well, I guess I have a ways to go.



  1. Unfortunately the eradication of one species regardless how disliked is directly related to the survival of other species – we are still a long ways from understanding the interconnectedness of all Life. As humans it is important that we remain humble – Nature has a way of reminding us how very small we are.


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