Early this afternoon I killed a robin. I didn’t mean to, it was entirely an accident and I felt badly about it for a few minutes afterward.
Mr. (or Miss) Robin was flirting with its mate, twitterpated and ruffled, dancing all over the middle of the road in characteristic spring fashion. As my car rounded the corner, it never had a chance to get out of the way. My public dislike for all feathered creatures could easily make it seem like premeditated murder, but I assure you that the entire episode was a total accident.
Coincidentally later this same afternoon, another death took place. Two giant bumble bees decided to make their home in my bathroom, tucked conveniently behind the shade on the window beside the commode. At first I tried to ignore the constant buzz, but their presence became increasingly unsettling as their stingers became dangerously close to my vulnerable self. So, I took matters into my own hands and quickly eliminated them before they eliminated me. Oddly enough it was a more gruesome ordeal than the earlier fatality. Neither bee expired on first attempt and I was forced to smash at their buzzing bodies over and over until they finally crunched into four separate pieces. It wasn’t until I was scooping them into the trashcan when I realized I was guilty of three murders and at least one broken heart all in one afternoon.
Later I wondered how many other creatures I could “eliminate” without straining my conscience. I’m not a fan of snakes, bats, or bunnies; however I can’t imagine bashing in their brains sport. One time a possum crept into my parents’ garage and bit my cat Snicklefritz. That was the closest I ever came to wanting to harm an animal myself. Luckily Dad destroyed the foul beast with a shovel on my behalf.
Within each of us lies the ability to do terrible things, that is a given. Fortunately the desire to indulge in wrongdoing often does not align with the opportunity. And even so, though God may forgive our many sins, our nervous system will not. Despite the dreadfully violent video games and graphic horror flicks, no one can be fully desensitized. Though we cling to our tyrannies and self righteous nonsense, when absolutes such as death or God seem close by, we are quickly reduced to vulnerable and apologetic children.
Our character is defined by what we do when no one is looking. Unfortunately for the robin and bee, my character did not reflect well on my pacifist agenda. I dedicate these words to them now as a peace offering or at least some reparation for the upset I caused in moments of haste. RIP.
“But that’s always the way; it don’t make no difference whether you do right or wrong, a person’s conscience ain’t got no sense, and just goes for him anyway. If I had a yaller dog that didn’t know no more than a person’s conscience does I would pison him. It takes up more room than all the rest of a person’s insides, and yet ain’t no good, nohow.”
Mark Twain, Huck Finn