Friday, May 13, 2005

Squashing Bugs

I was getting ready to take a shower when I noticed an insect slowly flying about my head. It annoyed me, so I squashed it against the bathroom window and knocked its remains into the wastebasket.

People do these sorts of things every day. We swat flies, set out mousetraps and roach motels, spray insecticides on our plants and take antibiotics to kill germs (living entities) in our bodies. We typically try to rid our lives of as much vermin, critters and insects as possible.

I must admit that sometimes these kinds of robotic and routine actions cause me to take pause. As a Taoist who believes that we are all part of one reality and that all beings are equal, I sometimes ask myself why it is that I should be one to decide life and death issues for other beings. Why should I choose to decide that this fly or that aphid or this germ should cease to exist at this particular moment?

We humans aren't concerned with some entity who might just arbitrarily decide today that it's our last day. No one smashes us against a window with a rolled up newspaper only to toss our remains in the garbage.

But then it dawned on me that maybe we TOO are subject to such whims. People die each and every day from accidents and for unexplained reasons.

A strong swimmer mysteriously drowns in a slow moving stream. A person, sleeping in their own bed, dies when a tree is blown onto their house during a storm. A gas main breaks and causes an explosion. Some unlucky person just happens to be walking by at that precise moment. A farmer dies when his tractor inexplicably runs over him. Etc., etc., etc.

Who's to say this isn't the arbitrary work of the higher being? Maybe this exalted one is having a "bad hair" day and it looks down on the world to see Bill or Mary just sort of buzzing around. The omnipotent becomes annoyed and ZAP, Bill or Mary are squashed from human existence like a fly against a window.

Maybe the only lesson here is that those who squash will themselves be squashed. Maybe there's no overriding message at all. Maybe death is merely a part of life and life is a part of death.

Simple as that.

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