My son David is against all killing. I tend to agree with his reasons for not wanting to kill, not wanting to kill even insects. Killing anything messes with our heart. Here’s a mix of what I learned from him and my own take on it. It may seem like a ridiculous comparison but I equate the satisfaction someone receives from swatting a mosquito on their arm to shooting a deer. David doesn’t feel the need to kill mosquitos. If he can reach it, David just blows or fans the mosquito off. Yet he’s grateful to bats for helping control the mosquito population. Thank God for bats.
Should we feel good about any kind of killing? God gave us life. God gave life to all creatures around us. This isn’t to say that we shouldn’t swat a mosquito or exterminate our home for roaches or even kill a deer for food. But we need to be strong minded and take care not to let it mess up our heart.
Once, while riding on the back of our motorcycle with my husband, we were almost hit by an out of control pickup which missed us by seconds as it ran the stop sign. The truck sped right in front of us and never slowed down as it continued into the field across the road, raising dust while turning on 2 wheels in an effort to avoid driving down a steep incline. Still not slowing down, it landed back on all four wheels and sped off onto the road in front of us. It all happened so fast. We pulled over and got off the bike. I was crying and shaking from shock.
When I retell this horror, I say I was nearly smashed like a bug on a windshield. Life is precious. Life can be taken so quickly. I thank God for sparing our lives. But what about all the mashed bugs on our motorcycle windshield that day. I know I’m being foolish. This is a bug's lot.
No doubt, it’s normal to be glad that the irritating mosquito won’t be bothering me anymore. Surely it’s okay to be proud of one’s hunting skills. But think about the emotions felt from killing any creature, even the smallest, the thrill, exhilaration, elation and ask God if this is okay. As in the case of the deer hunt, thank God for the skill he’s given you and for the gift of the deer for your family but avoid feeling overly satisfied or smug. This creature was living the way God created it to live and is now no longer alive. We can comfort our self that a bug’s life is short anyway. This is true, but since God gives life, when I take life of any kind I must ask, where is my heart? God sees into the heart of each of us. Consider this from Pope Francis’s encyclical Laudato Si. “[St. Francis’] response to the world around him was so much more than intellectual appreciation or economic calculus, for to him each and every creature was a sister united to him by bonds of affection. That is why he felt called to care for all that exists.”
I’m sure more than a few of us have seen a turtle crossing the road and stopped to carry it to the other side, but what about the earthworm that slithered onto the sidewalk and now can’t find the grass and dirt. Yes, I’ve helped many a bug to safety. And I know of people who gently relocate spiders from inside their homes to outdoors. My brother recently posted a picture on Facebook of a large snake at the bottom of the stairs of his apartment building. He chased the snake as far away into the grass as possible not because he was scared of the snake but rather scared for the snake. I “rescued” a bird once that flew into the car in front of me. I saw where it landed and retrieved the little bird. It was alive but not moving so I hurried to take it to a bird sanctuary in the next county when suddenly the bird started flying around in my car. I made a U-turn and delivered tweetie back to where I found him. I lowered the window and watched him fly to the highest branches of a tall tree.
I’d like to think my son David inherited some of his gentleness towards God’s creatures from me. Still, I know David taught me to expand my thinking in favor of even the smallest of creatures (especially to the smallest of creatures) and I’m grateful to him for this.
This story is about the killing of insects and animals not about killing people. Human life is sacred and most precious to God. “All life has inestimable value even the weakest and most vulnerable, the sick, the old, the unborn and the poor, are masterpieces of God’s creation, made in his own image, destined to live forever, and deserving of the utmost reverence and respect.” Pope Francis — Message to Catholics taking part in annual Day for Life in Britain and Ireland July 28, 2013