For the last couple hours, I have been listening to a life struggle on the brink of death.
I refer to a fly that is trapped somewhere in my room. I don’t know precisely where he is, but I can hear him. Once every minute or two, he frantically attempts to escape from where he is stuck. It makes a buzzing sound. In the last hour, that buzzing has become less frequent. All I can think is, gosh, that noise is irritating. I hope it stops.
Do you know what it means when the buzzing sound stops? It means the fly is DEAD. It means that there was a living creature somewhere in my room, struggling to stay alive, and I sat by listening to his death pleas, doing nothing, and the only thing that crossed my mind was, “gosh, that noise is irritating”, followed by, “hey, I should blog about this!”
If this fly was a human, you’d be coming at me with the police and handcuffs. If this fly was a dog or cat, you’d be coming at me with pitchforks and PETA. But this fly is a fly, and everyday in the world people are putting flies out of their misery, and nobody bats an eye.
If we bring humans, household pets and household pests down to their simplest form, they are all lives. They are all alive. They all have eyes. They all have hearts. They all even have nervous systems. Earlier this month, I dished out a small portion of my savings fund to save my rabbit’s life. There are people in the world who hunt rabbits for fun. Who am I to decide who’s more superior to live?
If we weren’t the ruling species on this earth, we could have just as easily been a fly in the hierarchy of species. That is to say, if humans weren’t designed to specifically rule the world, another species could have, and we could have just as easily been flies in their eyes. “But we aren’t!”, you say. “We’re the ruling species here, so this whole point is moot.”
But is it? Just because we’re the superior ones here and now, does that mean we have the right to decide what lives and what dies? In the end, we have at least one thing in common with every other living creature on earth, big or small: death. We’re all going to kick the bucket one day, and there isn’t a single thing we can do about it. So if none of us are immortal, what qualifies us to make any kind of decisions or judgments about life and death? What do we even know about this?
Just because flies seem insignificant to you and I, does that make them insignificant to the world at large? What sheer audacity, what outrageous boldness we have to assume the world revolves around us, that we are better than another. We all share the same mortality. You can find a cure for cancer and rule the world, but you will eventually meet the same fate as the fruit flies in your kitchen or the rats in the sewer. All the earthly accomplishments in the world won’t save you from that.
In a way, death has a way of humbling us. We think that we can make judgments about which animals to keep as pets, which to eat for food, which to wear as clothes, and which to swat or lay traps for; we think we’re superior, we think we’re invincible, but one day, we will share the same dust of the earth as the rats and the flies and all the other creatures we think ourselves above of. Eat your meat, hunt your animals and swat your flies—but one day, the joke will be on you.
So I stopped everything that was I doing, hunted down the fly, found him in my garbage can, ran the garbage can down a flight of stairs, took it outside and opened the lid. I hope he got out okay, because in the end, a life is a life, whether it belongs to me or the fly trapped in my garbage can.