Swatting Flies and Squishing Bugs
Bill Long 8/18/09
A Changed Life
A few months ago, on a slow news day, America was entertained by repeated video replays of our President's killing a fly that had settled on him during an interview he was giving to CNBC's John Harwood. Here is a YouTube video of this event. Everyone has, at one time or other, tried not simply to "shoo" a fly away but actually to crush one of them. Anyone who can crush one has reason to be proud; it requires dexterity, patience and swiftness. If the President 's popularity was beginning to wane a bit by June, he might have unwittingly won over some reluctant supporters by this fearless and dexterous act of male assertion.
In the wake of this event, People for The Ethical Treatment of Animals weighed in. In a news release the next day (June 17), PETA gently chided the President for disposing one of God's creatures (my words) in such an unceremonious fashion. So, PETA decided to send President Obama a "Katcha Bug Human Bug Catcher," a device that allows you to trap a pesky fly and hold it in a confined space, so that you can then go over to the door or window and release it into its glorious freedom. Here, in fact, is a picture of the Katcha Bug Humane Bug Catcher.
Thinking About Killing Bugs
My first reaction to the PETA folk was a harrumphing "Give me a break!" After all, I thought, don't they have something more important to do that to bug the President, as if they were a persistent fly, on such an unimportant topic as this? My second reaction was to begin to ridicule PETA. I studied their web site, made notes on all the "ridiculous" items they had for sale, and wondered about how such an organization can receive funding from anyone when it tries to steal national headlines on such insignificant issues. I even squished a few ants in my home for good measure. After all, it is summer, and you really can't fully keep bugs out of your home in the lush Pacific Northwest at this time. Thus, my threefold reaction of harrumphing, ridiculing and reducing the bug/ant population in the world was my way of disagreeing with the "PETA agenda."
Then, something happened. I don't recall any mental process leading to the following, but I distinctly remember myself about a month ago (mid-July), sitting in my writing chair and watching a black any crawl across the hardwood of my living room. Rather than making an immediate move to it to crush it, I gave myself pause. I went into the kitchen, grabbed a napkin, walked back to where the bug was on my floor, coaxed it onto the napkin (not really too difficult) and then walked him over to the front door and threw him out onto the garden. The last I saw was of a little ant scurrying through the dirt.
Facing the Ridicule
I told my girlfriend what I had done when she returned home from her day. Her immediate reaction was to ridicule me--of all people! 'What do you think you are doing, Bill? Going to save the ant population of the Northwest? You sure are making an impact with your life, just as I surmised you always would.." On and on went the ridicule. I just "took it" stoically, knowing in my heart that I was right.
The real challenge came today, however. Crawling across my floor was not simply an ant but a spider. It actually wasn't one of those spiders with long, spindly legs but a more compact version. My girlfriend, sitting across the room, let out a small screech.
"Kill that thing!" was her insistent advice.
I, stung now in conscience by the strength of the PETA appeal, found a napkin. It was more difficult to get the spider on the napkin, but finally I negotiated all obstacles. I quickly deposited the unappealing creature in the garden and thought that I had made an end to the issue.
But she didn't let me off the hook, "Do you see all those spider webs, webs that we walk into all the time as we are going around the house in the shade? Do you see the spider web dangling from the new pergola we just put up?" she insisted.
I responded, "Yes, isn't the artistic wizardry of spider webs just amazing? Doesn't it, in fact, point to a rather supreme intelligence behind the natural world?"
She glowered at me without saying a word.
Some people are avid recyclers, and have several categories of bags in the kitchen in which to deposit different kinds of paper or plastic products. Some are meticulous on diet, making sure that nothing without "healthy labels" makes it to the fridge or cabinet. I am not as committed to those things as I am now to preserving the life of bugs. After all, I think, God will honor my life by my honoring the life of the smallest of God's creatures. Now, is that good theology? Don't know, but I am having a great time growing in my skill of ushering small creeping bugs out of my house..