I was about to go to sleep when I saw a pholcid in the corner of the ceiling, right above my bed. I am not fond of spiders. But pholcids are the ones you want to have in your house. They eat other spiders. I had spotted a couple of tegenaria domestica and eratigena atrica a few weeks back. They can live several years. However, with that pholcid in my bedroom, I knew I wouldn’t see them again.
I once talked to a self-proclaimed wise man about the interest that some people have in spiders. I couldn’t even finish my point that he started mansplaining and ranting about how creepy these people were, how awful spiders were, and how they didn’t deserve to live, just like cockroaches. I listened politely at the time. I didn’t say anything back. I thought I would learn from him. But his words weren’t those of a wise man, they were those of Steve Cutts’ Man (kindly click to watch the video). The dissonance was quite revolting. That man was known for writing about buddhist wisdom, he would organise retreats and would charge people enough money to ensure a comfortable living for himself and his family for over a year, he would pose as a man who loves the other, but he couldn’t stand the otherness of spiders and wasn’t even demonstrating any hint of compassion for them?
This was so wrong.
I could have made myself the voice of spiders then. I could have told him off. I could have red-flagged his hypocrisy and his arrogance. Why would his life be better than the life of those spiders that he was despising and crushing for no other reason than his total absence of compassion?
I don’t like spiders, but I don’t kill them. I know that males tend to pullulate in autumn because they are looking for females. When they get too close from my bed, I capture them, and relocate them somewhere else in the house. It’s their house too.
Calling himself a buddhist, organising retreats, and writing about love and compassion doesn’t make him a good person – he is only inspiring those who don’t know him or simply don’t think.
Kindness is in the deeds of your everyday life, towards fellow humans, towards non-human earthlings, and particularly towards creatures that culture demonised, such as spiders.
And it doesn’t take a PhD in religious studies to know that.