Stories of Kindness from Around the World

Showing Kindness to Even the Smallest Beings


--by timcollardey, posted Feb 8, 2010

I have found that the way I treat insects acts as a reflection of my approach to kindness.  Like most kids, I suppose, I mistreated bugs terribly.  But many adults continue the rampage against insects, and I have often found that they do this mindlessly, killing them for no reason.

With the weather getting warmer, more bugs are getting into our houses.  We also spend more time in "their house," as we enjoy the great outdoors.  We find ourselves reaching for the fly swatter and insecticides to get rid of them.  But why do we do this?  Most insects pose no threat to us, but we kill them anyway.

As a young adult, I found myself questioning my treatment of bugs.  It became a moral issue.  I remember reading a Native American story about a mother who saw her daughter stomp on a spider.  The mom simply asks the child: "Now who'll take care of that spider's children?  Who would take care of you if someone killed me?"  It became a powerful lesson to the child.

All creatures have a purpose, and our world would be terribly out of balance without insects.  If we can treat them with kindness and respect, we can treat any creature that way.  The more I learned about the unique behaviors and purposes of insects, the more I appreciated their place in the world.  I have literally become someone who "wouldn't hurt a fly."

The more I have practiced, the better I've become at catching flies with my hand and escorting them back outside.  I use a small glass with a thin piece of cardboard to catch spiders, ants, and bees, and release them where they'll be happier--outdoors.  Sure it takes more work than just squishing them, but I feel more in harmony with nature by being kind to bugs.

Many of my friends and family think I'm pretty weird as a result.  I'm okay with that because I think it's pretty weird for people to mistreat other creatures.  If we could model that for our kids, perhaps they'd grow up to be kinder adults and help make this a kinder world to live in.

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Readers Comments

Allison wrote: Hi - can you tell me the name/author of the original story you mentioned re: stepping on the spider? Thanks!
Maureen Donnelly wrote: Every creature has a right to life, i won't hurt any creature on this planet, we all share the same world and should respect every living thing, yes even insects. I'm a vegetarian and going towards being vegan.
Beth wrote: You think folks think you're crazy? You should see what people think of me when i tell them that it's possible even to communicate with insects in a way. Indigenous people do this all over the world, and it actually does work. You have to drop the superior attitude and generate a feeling of shared beingness, then make your request and your intention clear and kind, and shockingly, it works more often than not. I could relate so many stories that blew my mind!

Gr8fulAnnie wrote: I understand the sentiment -- the reasons behind sparing the lives of insects as part of a wonder-filled universe where each part has a place -- but i must admit there are some insects it's not so easy for me to tolerate. I'm severely allergic to bees, and i don't always encounter them outdoors where i can get away. Then again, some insects commit suicide (or kamikaze), like the tiny gnats that fly up my nose! ;)
iris wrote: I believe it seems the older we get the kinder we become towards the bugs. Some way we learn that they have a right to live also.
irishgirl wrote: Thanks for this, i agree with you - no living thing great or small is without need of kindness. I get a lot of bugs in my apartment and must confess to having killed most of them but i am going to give your approach a try. Certainly stands to reason that kindness shouldn't be doled out on those we deem worthy, that right there is a breakdown in the fundamental concept of kindess. So thanks for opening my eyes to this!
Arun Goel wrote: Hi
This is really touchy. I even remember myself as a kid mistreating small ants for fun. But soon i changed myself and i also try not to hurt any animal or insect. But sometimes it becomes difficult to understand what is right and what is wrong. Picking some bugs and escorting them out is good but how would you deal with cockroaches who share the house with us and impossible to get rid of them as their home is not outdoor but indoors only. What do you say about eating animals to satisfy our hunger. I am a vegetarian since birth but i also wear leather accessories so i cant say that i do not hurt anyone. I am not arguing but i really want to understand the true way to live. As per the theory of evolution and the history reveals that since its inception, mankind has been hunting animals for their needs and safety.
twocents wrote: So true that the way we treat insects is connected to how we think about kindness.
unknown wrote: Tim, your concern and sensitivity seem to have such a pay-off. I truely appreciate your effort. So, next time, I happen to see an insect, I will shriek and run away if it is threatening but will definitely not kill the small ones. Infact many people don't like spiders, but I don't mind them. They have their cobwebs, agree, it doesn't look attractive, but just bec'z my house has to look good and a friend doesn't like spider, doesn't mean they are not entitled to live. I try to make this be realized, but anyways, I still don't want to compromise the spider's life ... never did :) thanks for sharing, lovingly, deepula.
flowergirl wrote: i love your post and agree with you ,the slugs keep eating my flowes but there is no way i will put poisen down as they have as much right as me to live ,love and peace flowergirl

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