Friday, October 7, 2011
The moral lessons we can learn from a spider
If you’re like me, your skin is sure to start crawling whenever you see one of these creepy crawlers. Most of us are very quick to curb stomp one of these little bastards when they dare cross our path. It generally doesn’t matter what size they are either. We are gonna’ take them down, and we pray (to Dawkins?) that we don’t find one in our room before going to bed because it will be most difficult to fall asleep until they are eliminated. But, what happens if we see them from a different perspective? What happens when we ascribe value to them?
I happen to have a black and yellow garden spider making a nice home for herself in the backyard. I noticed the magnificent craftsmanship of her web and immediately changed my perspective. Had I seen her creeping around on the patio, I would probably run for some spider spray or just stomp her out. Instead, I recognized the value that she had and the reciprocal altruistic nature of our relationship. I provide living space and shade, and she provides a death trap for flying insects that like to sting or eat away plants. She’s not poisonous and will not likely bite unless provoked. This is what happens when we stop objectifying others, regardless of species. Problems emerge when we stop seeing any value in another sentient creature; the Holocaust immediately comes to mind. The anti-Semitism derived from the Bible and Martin Luther’s distain for the Jew’s created an atmosphere of hatred and objectification. Hitler latched on to this ideology and made it a main area of primary concern in his reign. He refused to see the value in the Jewish people, blinded by hatred and religious vitriol.
It’s imperative that we learn to see the value in others. I believe that living morally requires the often conscious effort to find value in those around you despite their apparent flaws. There is no one that doesn’t have something to offer. Even the most decrepit can often teach us lessons about ourselves. Indeed, even a spider can illustrate the mental transition we can make when we see them as more than adversaries or pests. Anyway, I thought I would provide a little food for thought.