A bug’s life: Why hurting animals hurts you, too
Published: Friday, October 19, 2012
Updated: Friday, October 19, 2012 02:10
Last week, my roommates and I had our first real argument.
Whether it concerns cleanliness or cattiness, it’s expected that a group of college kids living under the same roof will have some disagreements. But in our case, the issue at hand wasn’t dish duty or a classic he-said/she-said case.
It was about a stinkbug.
Yes, one of those brown-grey bugs that have invaded Morgantown this year had sneaked into our apartment and was suddenly the subject of the most heated debate our apartment had seen all semester.
There were pros – killing the bug was easy and effective – and cons – the smell that stinkbugs release upon death would stink up our apartment for a good few hours. The stinkbug scaling our living room wall had been unknowingly placed in a life or death situation, and only the apartment’s verdict could save it.
Now, our first instinct as humans is to kill a bug. Whether it’s squishing or swatting, everybody seems to be inclined to kill the animals that inadvertently get in our way. And honestly, this is a natural reaction passed down from generation to generation: certain bugs, like the venomous ones, are dangerous and should be disposed of for our own safety. It’s simply survival of the fittest, and so far, avoiding lethal bug bites has done our species well.
However, the bite of the common spider or mosquito that cohabitates your dorm or apartment isn’t a death sentence. And although it may not seem as heart-wrenching or morally wrong to kill these animals as compared to the dogs and cats and what-have-you being abused and murdered every day, it’s really not so dissimilar.
Because the bugs and dogs and cats, etc., are all animals, just like us. We all live on the same Earth and try to survive the best we can. In fact, the only deviation we have from these animals is that we kill non-dangerous creatures simply for convenience. We don’t stand to benefit by smashing the ant that crawled into the kitchen. We gain nothing by flushing a spider down the toilet. So why do we do it?
Greater minds than mine have long discussed the benefits of being in touch with the nature around us, including animals. Gandhi once proclaimed that you can judge a society based on the way it treats its animals. Buddha himself was a vegetarian. And the Dalai Lama maintains that our prime purpose in life is to help others – and if you can’t help them, at least don’t hurt them.
So don’t harm the bugs (or any other animals) that get in your way. As insignificant as they may seem, we are all trying to live, and live well.
We share this world with all creatures, big and small, and pointlessly killing these individuals only reflects poorly on our species. As annoying as they are, just take those moths, centipedes, ants, spiders, or any other creatures that accidentally venture in your path and place them back where they belong – outside. And like the Dalai Lama said, if you can’t help them, at least don’t hurt them.
So after much consideration, the apartment ruled that our stinkbug guest was to be placed safely outside. I did the deed and came back inside feeling warm both inside and out.
And when I discovered another stinkbug wandering around our windowsill not twenty minutes later, I knew exactly what to do.