I think I am viewed as a person who wouldn't hurt a fly. Except I can't even imagine the number of actual flies I have killed. I just killed a wasp that somehow managed to make it into the wrong side of the newsroom window. Yesterday I drowned an ant in my bathroom sink, sprayed a spider down the shower drain, and later stomped on two ants in the kitchen. Between the bugs we squash, pests we poison, and animals we inadvertently hit with our cars, there is a constant massacre of creatures that we humans don't think much about.
Except I have been thinking about them. I feel kind of terrible about drowning the ants, which can't be a really happy way for them to go. At the same time I feel even more unhappy about the ants running around the counter top as I brush my teeth. Somehow I don't feel clean after that.
Douglas Adams created a character in 'The Hitchhiker's Guide To the Galaxy' that really got me thinking about all the bugs I kill when i read it many years ago. Agrajag was a hapless creature who was continuously reincarnated after the book's anti-hero, Arthur Dent, killed him, thousands of times, oblivious to the fact that killing this bug was the umpteenth time he had killed all those creatures with the same soul. Arthur meets Agrajag in his travels, and the latter is understandably irritated with the human, after being killed by him in the forms of a bowl of petunias, multiple flies, a rabbit Arthur killed, newts that he stepped on, an oyster and a cow that Arthur ate, ants he stepped on, fleas... you get the idea.
When they meet Agrajag is primed for revenge, but he wants to explain to Arthur why he hates him. While doing that a shot is fired, Arthur ducks, and guess who is killed!
Are all the ants, wasps, mice I killed one soul? Why don't they have the same right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness I have?
Well, I like to think about all the money I pay in property taxes that the spider that was pooping in my bathroom cup was not contributing to. It seemed fitting that he should be permanently evicted, under the circumstances. And the mouse that bit through the hot wire in our air conditioner may have had his temporary revenge in preventing us from cooling off and then receiving a hefty bill to get it fixed. but that only made me think that one fewer mouse in the world isn't a really terrible thing... especially that mouse.
And I am sure you know how difficult it is to clean off the sticky mess bugs make when they hit your windshield. Or, to possibly be more accurate, when your windshield hits them. In either case, I know my mother taught me to look both ways before crossing the road. Since I have lived to a ripe old age I have to believe that was really good advice. Am I really responsible for that bug's mother's poor parenting skills?
I once killed a bird when it flew into my car. I heard the thunk, but when I stopped the car to look I couldn't find any evidence of it. A few days later I found what was left of the carcass inside my wheel well, covered with maggots. I really felt badly about that one.
Maggots are gross.
And I do feel bad. I suppose I am wasting perfectly good guilt on this, and it hasn't particularly impacted my homicidal tendencies. It's just not easy living in this world. Especially if you are a bug. And really especially if I am wearing shoes, or happen to be within grabbing distance of a rolled up magazine.