Does empathy for all include insects? Is it because a bug is so small in comparison to us and considered pests that our empathy might not extend to them?
This week I stepped in for a teacher to go get some water. I was only outside with the children for a few minutes when I noticed most of the group was over at the bushes. I went over to see what they were doing. This is when I saw a girl ripping the wings off of a beetle. I was shocked! This was our conversation…
Me: What are you doing, did you just rip his wings off?
Girl: Because they’re eating our plants and making holes in them.
Me: So you’re ripping their wings off for that?
Girl: Yes, gardeners say to do this.
Me: What? I have never heard of such a thing. What gardeners?
Girl and other students: All gardeners. They’re killing all of our plants, bushes, and trees so they’re killing us.
Me: They are not killing us. We don’t rip the wings off of insects, that’s cruel. That would be like someone ripping your arms off.
Another girl: So, I wouldn’t care.
Group of kids went to picnic table and were all talking about it, I went over to listen and then intervened.
Me: What gardeners are you talking about say to do this?
Girl: All of them because if they’re killing your plants you need to do that or just kill them.
Girl and other students: They’re killing us.
Me: Look around, there are plants, trees, and bushes everywhere. We are fine, they are not killing us! I understand some people choose to take some kind of action at their homes if they feel a bug is a problem, but here we are not doing that.
I found out that this was not just one insect she did this too. She had been doing this on a regular basis and taught the other kids how to do it. This is not a curious two year old, this is a 12 year old who should know better.
I gotta tell you this really disturbed me. After I saw her rip that insect’s wings off I saw that little guy trying to fly away, flapping so hard but there was nothing there. Then the girl just tossed him in the air like he was nothing and he fell to the ground.
So this got me thinking, do insects not deserve the same empathy a furry cute creature does? It is a living, feeling being too.
I found a very interesting online discussion with the following question as the topic: “If you injure a bug, should you kill it and relieve its pain, or hope it survives?”
I found the responses quite interesting. One person said in the time they took to answer the question they could have shared their faith with another person. Basically saying people are wasting their time discussing the topic of insects. But I beg to differ. Insects like animals and like us are all God’s creation. There is not any part of me that believes for one second that he wants ANYTHING treated badly or to suffer. So to discuss this and get people thinking about it has the potential to bring more compassion for all to a world that needs it badly. (link to the discussion: If You Injure A Bug)
The child that pulled the insects wings off needs to understand that, that was an act of cruelty.
How can we really know what an insect experiences as far as pain? There is no way to be sure. The bottom line should be, be kind to people, to animals, and to insects. We should teach this to children too. There shouldn’t be empathy for all, except…! Just empathy for all.