I knew I was in good hands the day I watched my best friend and my boyfriend chasing a grotesque little beetle around a room so they could put it outside where it wouldn’t be stepped on, and now I’m a believer- I believe in putting bugs outside.
Now don’t get me wrong, bugs are ugly. Bugs are freaky little alien creatures that skitter and bite and fly for crying out loud, but I guarantee not one of them has thought a malicious thing in its busy little bug life. They do not deserve to die because they are ugly, inconvenient, or annoying. And each of them, just like each of us, has a fraction of time to spend on earth. The last fly I swatted was living a life and I cut that short because the buzzing sound of its wings annoyed me. I probably didn’t think twice about it then. It was just a bug. It was smaller than me. It was irritating. But when I apply that mentality to the people around me, numerous flaws present themselves. I don’t want to use my energy to further belittle those who are smaller than I am. If someone irritates me I do not attack them, I simply avoid them. “It was just a bug” becomes “it was just a person,” and for whatever reason that just doesn’t seem right.
From my observation, the way a person treats bugs says a lot about their character. I know a few boys who love to torture them. They’ll pull a spider’s legs off one by one and watch it die or hold a magnifying glass over an ant in the sun and watch it die or pour salt on a slug and watch it writhe in pain as it dehydrates and then dies. Those are the boys can’t wait to join the military so they can take lives without consequence. They’re the ones whose favorite jokes are about race, the Holocaust, and the mentally disabled, and they scare me because there is no compassion in their hearts. I choose to surround myself with the people who take the bugs outside because they are kind. My coworker Kym is part of that group. She has such a sensitive soul that she once saw a flake of palm tree in the middle of the road and mistook it for a dead dog, then pulled over and sobbed for fifteen minutes before she realized her mistake. She also stays at my workplace long past the time we close to make sure everyone else can get home at a reasonable time. Another prime example is my good friend Colton. He is incredibly protective of the ones he loves, and was once overwhelmed because he talked four people out of harming themselves in one week. Then there is my choir director who has been a shoulder to cry on for many of his students in some of their darkest times and works so hard to make his program a safe space for anyone who wants to be a part of it. He did not mind when some choir members caught a scorpion in a tall glass jar, kept it in his room, and fed it apple slices.
Now I take bugs outside too, because the people who live and let live are the people who approach the world with mercy and gentleness. Every living creature on the planet is here to live a life- let’s not step on each other.