Saturday, July 13, 2019

Can centipedes really save the world?

If you'd asked me a week ago, I would've said I hate them. Revile them. I want to kill them.
Strong words.
I shudder just letting the thought of one cross my mind, let alone my naked foot.

'Tis the moist season for finding them in the basement. I gird my loins and check that I'm wearing shoes going down to switch laundry into the dryer. And always, I smash them if I can, by stomping on them or taking off my shoe and thwacking it on the wall. Or the ceiling (what if it fell down my shirt? what if a half-dead one was squirming on me? omg).

Then last week - the big epiphany. The first centipede of this summer season, coarse and disgusting with its way-too-many legs, hung there looking at me from the laundry room wall.
It froze.
I froze.
I realized that it wasn't doing me any harm, and for all I know might be a good creature to have around. And it was sitting there terrified, waiting for me to kill it.

"You know what?" I told it. Was it listening? Could it somehow understand my intent? "I'm not going to kill you. I'm calling a truce."

Next trip downstairs it was gone.

Can I stick to my non-killing truce? I hope so. And it feels good.
Although I must admit to crossing my fingers that it's not down in centipede central somewhere deep in the damp bowels of the earth, telling its catrillions of relatives that my basement is now a no-kill zone...

But here's the important thing: the sequence of feelings.
I fear. It feels akin to hate. So therefore I want to eradicate.

If I'm like that with centipedes, why not bigger things? Like rats. Now I've moved to mammals.
Victorian Fairy Tarot

If rats, then why not hyenas?
If hyenas, then why not...

AnnaK Tarot

And from here it's a very short step to the Holocaust.
And Japanese interment camps.
And refugees in leaking boats.
And migrant children held in camps.

Barbara Kingsolver's latest is called Unsheltered.

It has her usual magical mix of relationships you can buy into, perfectly crafted phrases, and respect for flora and fauna. (Note: spoiler alert.)
The book is based on a true story.
The year is 1868-ish, the setting Vineland, New Jersey, billed as an enlightened utopian city.
The controversy? Charles Darwin's work, and how much it shakes up the established notions of human superiority on the planet. 
The fear - hate - killing connection? Charles Landis, revered founder of Vineland, is so incensed by Darwin's suppositions that he shoots and kills the editor of the non-Landis-authorized newspaper for daring to publish this new and blasphemous theory.
Landis' reason? The article was upsetting his wife, and consequently making him crazy. Therefore he had no choice but to walk into the newspaper office and shoot the guy in the back. And that was OK, because no one in Vineland should be subjected to that godlessness. 
The newspaperman's family? Wife and five children, now destitute. Oh well.

The Five of Swords is probably my least favourite card, and I've blogged about it before.
If ...we shut people out because they feel unlike us for whatever the reason,
Tarot of the 78 Doors

if...we look at the world around us with mistrust,
Tarot of the Moors

then...the emotional landscape of our world narrows, becoming more frigid, more bleak.
Tarot of the Sidhe

Sometimes it's easy to jump on a popular bandwagon without thinking it through.
Whimsical Tarot

And the crazy thing is that, under the superficial differences, we're all pretty much the same.
Tarot of the Zirkus Magi

The fear-turns-to-hate-turns-to-killing sequence has been with us forever, I suspect. The question is, what can we do about it?
Dr. Seuss had the right idea in The Sneetches.

Me? I'm going to start by not killing centipedes.