“A human being is a part of the whole called by us universe.
Our task must be to widen our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.”
So, we have one standing rule in our house: Do Not Kill. Pretty simple, right? This applies to everything from ants on the sidewalk, spiders in the house all the way on up the food chain. I firmly believe every living thing has the right to continue existing without our interference. Now, that said – I did grow up on a farm and am no stranger to death. We had cows, pigs, chickens and for a short time a sad, lonely, single goat. Our animals (with the exception of the goat) eventually became our dinner. I’m ok with that. While I don’t like to kill – I do like to eat – and I love me some hamburger – so I get the whole cycle of life thing. I believe it’s one thing to kill for sustenance – it’s another to kill for fun. When we see insects on the sidewalk my kids know to let them be. It’s something I’ve preached over the years and tried to reinforce with my own behavior.
For example, just a few years ago we were getting ready to leave when I went outside and saw a HUGE snake crawling across my driveway.
Just for the record – I HATE snakes. They terrify me and I just wanted it gone. Technically – given my fear of snakes – the logical solution would have been to run it over with my car on the way out. However, like I said, I preach a “no kill” lifestyle – so what message would that have sent to my kids? Plus – I would have then had a HUGE DEAD SNAKE in the middle of my driveway. Instead, we decided to wait out the snake. The snake, in turn, decided my driveway would make a fantastic new home and made itself comfortable directly behind my back tire – for 45 minutes.
I was running out of options, time and patience. Then I remembered a conversation I had with my neighbor. He is a veterinarian and mentioned that he LOVES snakes. Bingo. I headed outside, taking wide berth around the snake, and prayed my neighbor was home. I knocked on the door – he answered – I uttered the words “big snake” and he quickly hopped to action. He walked to my yard, leaned down, grabbed the snake behind the head, put him IN HIS HAND and walked back home. I felt good that I didn’t kill the snake, that my kids witnessed me being kind despite my fear and that the snake got to move on and live happily ever after somewhere far, far away from me. A total win/win and proud parenting moment! I was able to reinforce my belief that all living things, scaly or not, deserve our respect and consideration.
So, you can imagine my disappointment when I walked outside this morning and saw this.
My son had taken a hammer to our fruit tree in the backyard. I almost cried when I saw the damage.
“Why did you do that?” I asked, completely upset. “Don’t you know that will kill the tree?”
He looked at me, head down, shoulders slumped and said, “I just wanted to see what it looked like under the bark.”
Oh my. I guess curiosity is a natural thing – especially in a 10 year old boy. But the hammering was excessive. He could have easily gotten a glimpse and stopped prior to removing so much bark. It’s like he didn’t think the tree was alive, or worse, didn’t care that he could hurt it. It was the perfect opportunity to reinforce my “live and let live” philosophy! He needs to understand that trees are living things and his hammering caused some serious damage. We had him go online and research the functionality and purpose behind tree bark. He, in turn, learned that bark protects the tree from elements and, most importantly, serves as a transport system for nutrients. Ultimately, the bark serves to keep the tree alive and healthy! I am hopeful our tree won’t die AND that this whole experience has taught my son a lesson about exercising your will on another living organism: Just because you can doesn’t mean you should.
Now, before I start getting all sorts of unhappy comments and emails – this is my personal philosophy and how I choose to raise my family. You are free to kill, maim and do whatever you like in your own life (within the rules of society and the law) and my “do not kill” stance is by no means a judgement against you and yours. Carry on kindly!