Tuesday, July 28, 2015
Am I a Buddhist?
(Image used without permission.)
There are numerous creatures on Planet Earth that, to me at least, seem to have no purpose whatsoever other than to annoy the hell out of humankind, some to the point of insanity. Many people would include flies in this list of 'God's Irritants,' but at least in breaking down waste they serve a purpose. But, for example, what is the point of mosquitos? I hate the bastards. And then, just as detestable, there are wasps. Man, do I hate, hate, HATE wasps! Look at that little git up there. He's actually a very handsome wee beastie, a miracle of nature if you will, but his impressive looks and antennae mean fuck all to me. I. HATE. WASPS!
We have a lovely deck at home, and there is little better Susan and I love to do in the summertime than to take our breakfast or supper out there to enjoy a peaceful meal together in the sunshine. The local wasp population, however, seem to have different ideas. The moment we sit down with our food, out they come in vast squadrons, determined to make our lives as miserable as possible for the duration of our meal.
Even the way they fly, randomly and drunkenly dicking around and weaving about in the air, often around our legs, is so goddamned annoying. Consequently, we've been chased indoors off the deck several times, unable to concentrate on our food, as it gets cold while (note) I wildly swing a swatter about to destroy the little assholes. Susan is much more Zen about it than I could ever be, at least attempting to eat her dinner, while I turn the air blue, screaming at the stripy little monsters, chasing them all over the deck in a mad rage. The neighbours must be greatly amused. Little has given me more joy than hitting a homer with one, sending its instantly dead, tiny body hurtling over the deck railing when I connect sound and true with one in flight. Yes, for I AM HUMAN, and the wasps will bow down before me!
However, something in me has changed recently, and although I have ideas about it, I think I am at a loss to clearly explain it:
I have actually started feeling guilty for killing the fuckers. True!
This all started when we recently discovered a small nest on the underside of the roof of our shed. After leaving it be for a week or so, we simply couldn't stand the hassle at mealtime anymore, so one day last week at sundown, I zapped it with a can of Raid, destroying the nest and its occupants with one short blast. I watched the little creatures twitch and spasm as they lost the battle for life, finally stopping moving... and it made me feel awful. I took another look the following morning; there was no sign of life, just a dissolved nest and a few black and yellow corpses hanging from it.
I had destroyed a society in an instant, and it weighed heavy on me.
Our friend Victor - who, if it is even possible, hates wasps more than I do - recently gave us a beautiful glass jar honey trap to help with the wasp problem, which continued apace after the shed nest was levelled. It has caught quite a few wasps - flies, too - and I watched them as they went through the final throes of their short lives, helplessly trying to escape the sticky fluid they had unwittingly gone to investigate, only to meet their doom. And I actually felt awful for bringing that about, for killing creatures that know no better than to follow their instincts, however annoying or inconvenient their actions are to me or any other human...
There is so much destruction of peoples and cultures in this world, as there has been since humans learned to fight each other. With the recent rise of ISIS, Boko Haram and their vile ilk, humans who without a care wantonly set out to destroy anything or anyone that does not align with their vision of how the world should be, has come a change in how I view the world. I have become more tolerant and less tolerant at the same time, which is a confusing state of mind to say the least. But witnessing the destruction of astonishing historical sites, simply because they are deemed 'un-Islamic,' or whatever, has evidently had a profound effect on me. Killing these wasps as I have, wiping out a community of 'innocent' creatures, certainly in my mind draws parallels with what is going on out there. Quite obviously it cannot in any way truly compare, but the evils of the world seemed to have heightened my sensitivity to my own actions, even if those actions are 'merely' destroying a wasps' nest and all who dwelled in it.
This is very interesting food for thought. I have been going through many organic changes for the last couple of years, mostly for the better, and in seeing the death of a small society of creatures by my hand - even those that are universally acknowledged as pests - as something that troubles me, is a further mental development I find fascinating. At the end of the day it is such an infinitesimally insignificant event, both in my own world and the world at large, that I or no-one else need ever give it a second thought... yet I have.
When I told him about this, Victor just laughed. Susan, too. Perhaps they have a point? Watch this space, as this does not feel like the end of the story.