November 30, 2011

Honouring The Life Force

OK everyone - hold still, and... say Ch'i!

Want someone to think you are unbalanced? Suggest that they don't kill the mosquito on their arm, or the fly on the wall. Or that they scoop a bug up on a piece of paper and set it free outside. They will look at you like you are a bug.

In spite of that, I must admit that there is a teeny, tiny fruit fly occupying my kitchen that is giving me trouble. At one time dealing with it would have been easy, but not any more.

For a long time my reaction to insect 'pests' was disturbingly automatic. It was the same reaction most people have - kill them. Then I began to question how I could snuff out what the Chinese call 'Chi', or the universal life force, out of a fellow creature doing me no harm.

I discovered not everyone was so careless and callous. Adherents of the Indian religion of Janism, for example, practice non-violence toward all living beings. They believe in the equality of all life, great or small. Devout Jains wear masks so they do not harm bugs by inhaling them, and sweep the ground in front of them so they do not step on anything. I was inspired by their gentleness.

I changed my approach to indoor fauna. If any insect is bothersome I take the time to transport it outside to continue its life unharmed. Instead of dispensing death I am proffering freedom, which is much more consistent with how I live my life.

But this year I am wondering about forcefully evicting insects from my warm home into the cold winter air.

Since the violent evictions of peaceful Occupy protesters across North America, I have been thinking again about the preciousness of life. How are my behaviours like those of the police?

Do I pepper spray innocent, peaceful people with caustic thoughts? Do my lifestyle choices support violence against other people? Against the environment? Against other living things, including insects? Are my insect evictions like police putting protesters out of their tents and into the cold, dark streets?

Now I am wondering if I can even evict my domestic wildlife during the cold months. Wouldn't doing so make me into a one person, black-clad, Insect Riot Squad, out to cleanse all undesirable life forms from within the confines of my own personal Liberty Square?

Military masterminds over history have tried to make killing easier by imagining the enemy as less than human, as mere insects. That wouldn't work with me - I do not want to end the life force of any living thing, human or otherwise. I have vowed to do the least amount of harm possible.

So now, no forced insect evictions till Spring, unless I am really creeped out, or there is some sort of health risk. I guess I should see what the lifespan of a fruit fly is.

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