a sermon on vermin

With a slap of your hand you kill the mosquito that lands on you for a quick meal. With a stomp of your foot you squash dead a cockroach too slow at scurrying away. With a deadly feather-duster or a hungry vacuum cleaner you destroy the spiders and the webs they have woven in the nooks and crannies of your home. For no good reason other that to test the speed of your reflexes, you grab and then clutch to death a little midge flying harmlessly through the air. With an ozone-friendly insecticide you murder hundreds of ants clearing away the debris on your kitchen floor.

You think of yourself as a person with at least one foot on the path to enlightenment. So you rationalise the killing as being acceptable considering the nature and insignificance of the victims.

Yet the cockroach is to you as you are to God. The ant knows you as well as you know God. Do you want God to treat you in the same way as you treat those you believe are 'lesser beings'?

Actually, so-called acts of God such as droughts or tidal waves or pandemic diseases continue to cause misery and death to those swiftly described by the philosopher King in Gulliver's Travels as "...the most pernicious race of odious little vermin Nature ever suffered to crawl upon the face of the earth."

Perhaps the Earl of Gloucester in Shakespeare's King Lear had it right when he remarks that as "...flies to wanton boys, are we to the gods. They kill us for their sport".

Perhaps the destructiveness and madness of modern human culture is not of our own making but part of our punishment by the wrathful God named Jehovah?

Perhaps our self-destructive descent into madness invites the belief that "Whom the gods would destroy, they first make mad", as the sorceress Medea says in the play by Euripides? Relinquishing her free will is the only way Medea can justify her killing her children to hurt her ex lover. (Nor has the practice abated over time. Nowadays, people deny responsibility for their actions on the grounds of insanity or of being under the influence of drugs or alcohol.)

To these complex questions there is one simple answer: It depends.

It depends on what you understand to be the nature of that which you label as "God". It depends on whether you conceive, perceive or believe that droughts and tidal waves and plagues are deliberate, intentional acts of divine punishment. Or not.


chook said...

If I feel for the ant/fish/deer does this make the killing alright? If this crazy thing you label god is bringing destruction down on us to make us better people, is that alright?
In being a farmer I have killed many animals but never with a black heart or with indifference but with a blessing for life and death.

masterymistery said...

I intended this post to be descriptive rather than judgemental, ie, "this is what I observe" as opposed to "this is how it should / should not be". I am not saying killing is alright. I am saying we should observe ourselves in the act of killing, and place that observation in the context that each of us is as insignificant to God as the ant is to a person.

One of the strange things I have observed, which is only touched upon in this post, is the contradiction inherent in the concept of God within the monotheistic religions. One small example: God is believed to be perfect, and perfectly good. And yet in numerous places in the bible it's clear that Jehovah is indeed a wrathful god. Or how about Jesus throwing a tantrum when he can't get fruit out of season on demand, so he "withers the tree".

And by the way, I really like your phrase "this thing you label god" because that is exactly what the logic is underlying arguments/disagreeements about God --- there is no real disagreement, only arguments about the application of labels.

Lily Strange said...

I actually think that Jehovah tends to fit the description of the Demiurge, the blind, insane God that acts on a whim. Either that or he's just a pissy bastard who likes to kick people's ass for not worshiping him.
However, I would like to find the bastard that created cockroaches and kick them where it hurts. I hate those things!