I’ve been thinking about a lot of things lately, which is no surprise, because, I’m a thinker. It’s what I do. If I could get paid to be a lifelong student and philosopher, I would. My mind constantly trails off into other realms while I am supposed to be focused on my task at hand, whatever it may be. So here is one of my random thoughts that lasted a little too long.
I’m prejudiced against spiders! Now, I know they are not the same species as myself, but do they have to be? Merriam-Webster defines prejudice as:
2a (1) : preconceived judgment or opinion (2) : an adverse opinion or leaning formed without just grounds or before sufficient knowledge b : an instance of such judgment or opinion c : an irrational attitude of hostility directed against an individual, a group, a race, or their supposed characteristics
Of course, Merriam-Webster is talking about judgment of people, but part 2a states “preconceived judgment or opinion” and that is clearly my relationship with spiders. I want to crush them all with extreme prejudice! I don’t want to live near them, I don’t want them in my house, my yard, my schools or my town. I’m afraid they will crawl in my mouth or bite me while I’m sleeping. I’m also pretty certain they are planning world domination while I’m not looking. Some are poisonous and have killed in the past and even though the vast majority poses no harm, I’m petrified. After all, they just look mean. Is that fair to the spider who has done nothing but exist on the same planet as me? No. Have I cared whether it was fair or not? No. Is that a good way to live my life? Nope.
So here is what I was thinking. I have an irrational fear of spiders. I mean I am simply terrified of them and always have been. If there are too many around at once, and I am not able to regroup before the next sighting, I will break down and cry. It’s not a pretty picture and I am not proud of it. But, this is my issue and not the fault of the spider. As my issue, it is my responsibility to work on it, I do not expect spiders to stay away because of my fears. They have just as much purpose on this planet as I do and, depending on the day, maybe even more of a purpose. Removing one 5’11” woman from the Earth probably doesn’t make much difference, but the amount of spiders it would take to fill the same amount of space as a 5’11” woman, that’s a lot of spiders and could change the ecosystem in that area for a bit. They repopulate rapidly, so it wouldn’t make much difference for long. The question now is how I can change my irrational fear so that I am no longer forcing my prejudice on the spider.
Education and empathy is my answer. Learn about the spider and find out all the awesome different things they can do. For example, there are spiders that can make super long webs, really fast, that will fly through the air on the wind and attach to something on the other side, like a tree. Then they can make their web and catch insects flying above a river. Something so small can do something so big. They really are master architects with their webs. As for empathy, I can’t ask a spider what its life has been like, but I can look at their lives objectively and get an idea. Think of what it would be like to just be hanging out, trying to find food and some giant comes along and takes away your home or worse, tries to step on you and kill you. Of course most spiders are in the wilderness, but they have their predators such as snakes, birds, cats and even other spiders. I don’t know about you, but that sounds like some pretty tough living.
Everyone is trying to live our lives and survive, maybe create a home and enjoy life while we are here. If I’m the one with the fears, shouldn’t I be working on that myself and not expect the ones I’m afraid of to just step out of the way and go live somewhere else so I can feel safe and happy? Nothing about prejudice is rational, but that doesn’t mean I can’t be rational about it and work on myself to change.
Future spider friend.
“Prejudice.” Merriam-Webster.com. Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 4 Sept. 2017.