Learn To Love Spiders
There is great benefit in living your life in a world where we appreciate our fellow creatures, all creatures big and small
There is an industry to kill spiders. There is also profit in spreading toxins around to crush cockroaches, murder mosquitoes, annihilate ants, blast beetles, and, of course, many more. But what if we had the freedom to be free of poisons? What if we did not fret so much about their damage? What if we did not automatically follow the social programming that trains the brain to kill, kill, kill? What if, we could learn to appreciate them for what they are, rather than to fear and loathe them, as we have been taught to do?
Common sense allows common solutions
This is not to say we should not effectively prevent malaria, lethal bites (incredibly rare) by black widows, or defend your home from termite damage. All of that kind of prevention makes sense, but our human response is usually overkill, and that has other costs that we don’t always see. There are many ways to control and live with other creatures, however, that do not require toxins. In fact, it is not so difficult to use toxins only as a last resort. More on that later. First, let’s talk about your relationship with the natural world, and why it is so overlooked in your examination of the self.
Most non-invasive techniques for dealing with our fellow tiny citizens are structural, and material, such as netting, screens, and reduction of anything that attracts them. For example, I never put food waste in garbage, it just means more bugs, odors, and goo. By result, I never have to deal with smelly trash, ever, and neither should you!
There are psychological costs to being at war with nature
As mentioned, there is always a price to pay when we alienate, or separate ourselves, from the rest of the creation.
Some of the costs are psychological. We may feel deep down that if we don’t master the insect world, we can not expect to master our own careers and relationships. We are taught from an early age that domination of our domain is central.
You may be programmed to always strive for the top. Were you taught to feel that you are useless, or a failure, if you are too young, too old, too fat, or too anything? What if you are not a top earner, influencer, or celebrity? Wise goals see more than a hierarchical point, they see roles for each of us every step of the way. For every life goal you have, you must rely upon a supportive world. That world includes a natural, supportive biosphere.
Control and domination of the world is a discarded, and even dismissed belief, when it comes to other nations such as conquered natives, or colonized countries. But as a species, we have a long way to go in our re-connection to the natural world.
Ecopsychology is the science that studies how we belong to the earth, and to remedy all of human problems, we must realign with nature and her many wise lessons. This means, learning to live with spiders and bugs, lions, tigers, and bears, (Oh My!) all ecosystems, and most of all, one another. Master that, and we are on our way.
Spiders are excellent friends with which to begin.
There are sociological benefits to widening your circle of compassion
We learn, especially little girls, to scream in fear at the sight of a little spider. This socialization also teaches little boys to be tough, and in many cases, murderous when it comes to other smaller beings. The best part of masculinity, is discipline and self-control. These aspects of both maleness’ and femaleness emphasize protection, and defense of all that is of value and beauty in the world. That which we call toxic masculinity is a loss of respect, consideration, and compassion. There truly is no toxic masculinity, or toxic femininity, so much as there is just plain and simple toxic, social conditioning. Teach children to treat one another with kindness. Teach children to treat the rest of the creation with kindness. It is so simple that it’s easy to forget.
There are biological benefits to widening your circle of compassion
The health of all ecosystems depends upon balance. When one strand of the food web is disturbed, all members reliant upon a food source, suffer. When pesticides take out a particular beetle, for example, not only are other plants, worms, grubs and so on affected, but so too, are the insects, birds, and wildlife that depend upon that beetle for their food source.
Human beings have dangerously impacted many insect and animal species, not only their detriment, but to our own as well. As in the examples above where physical harms results in psychological damage, the suppressed sorrow, loss, and guilt that we feel also affects us. The quickest response is simple denial: “That creepy spider doesn’t deserve to live!” but a more thoughtful examination of any death reveals that we really feel better about any life we can spare, and that we really do benefit from avoiding harm and suffering when we are able to constructively alter the outcome.
Most people would agree, for example, that for all the health, beauty, food, medicine, and so much more — life itself — that living beings, (including domesticated ones) provide, we have every reason to make their lives as content, comfortable, and peaceful as possible.
There are world survival benefits to widening your circle of compassion
We need food, water, and clean soil to survive. When we overuse pesticides, all of this is at risk. In short, biodiversity allows life on earth. When there were fewer than five billion people, this was not a huge problem. Nor was it a beg concern for most of the ten thousand recent years of our agricultural impact. But now we overuse toxins at alarming rates. We also overrun ecosystems and tend to employ scorched earth tactics.
Climate change, and pollution, exacerbates all of our human impact. But taking control of our actions, and empowering individuals to have healthier interactions with the biosphere that supports us, improves life everywhere. The tiniest bit of empowerment to influence a better world matters as much as international scale global agreements.
Loss of some insect species means the triumph of some others. Where we live, we have seen first hand the massive decline in some beneficial insects because more aggressive, and resistant ones, often much more venomous and destructive, have taken their place. The introduction of the Coffee Beetle borer in Kona, for example, has destroyed many a coffee farm, including our own. One of the most effective treatments to date has been to apply “Beetle Juice,” the local name for a concoction derived from a naturally occurring Hawaii Island Fungus.
Most people still use pesticides and herbicides, however, as natural remedies have no where near the marketing and big cash clout of pesticide corporations. That is yet another reason why your participation matters.
According to the World Wildlife Fund, human beings and our impact are causing the extinction of our co-creatures at a rate likely to be at least 1,000 times the natural rate. That is the LOW estimate. It is more likely that given so many species yet undiscovered are expiring, the extinction rate of our human impact is 10,000 times higher than nature’s evolutionary schedule historically has allowed.
What has this to do with the spider in your shower? The spider in your shower may send a shudder down your back, but it is almost always more beneficial than harmful. Although most spiders have some venom, the amount is so tiny it usually has no impact at all upon a human being. Furthermore, spiders, and other insects provide an incalculable service of consuming up to 800 million tons of destructive insects, including mosquitoes, disease carrying flies, and larvae of many, less desirable critters. Even a black widow spider bite is overwhelmingly non-lethal, and in addition their venom, along with many other dutiful bugs, provides anti-venom as well as other medical remedies we human beings rely upon all over the globe.
This brings us to another important service that all insects and other creatures provide.
There are science and technology benefits to widening your circle of compassion
As mentioned, spiders and other insects provide medicine. Whereas the use of pesticides has overwhelmingly been linked to neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s, mental and emotional disorders, ranging from ADHD, to depression and anxiety, and to many kinds of cancer, spider venom causes none of these. In fact, spider and other creature venoms are used worldwide in the prevention of brain cancer, stroke, blood clotting, and chronic pain.
In addition to medical technologies, the study of spider silk yields ever-increasing knowledge in how fibers of immense tensile strength can improve applications in everything from engineering in aerospace to useful materials in bullet proof clothing to parachutes.
If Nicole Kidman can save a spider’s life, you can too
Think of a time you helped a fellow creature out of a dilemma. How did it make you feel?
Nicole Kidman scooped a love-lorn tarantula out of a swimming pool. She gently sent the spider, who was no doubt in search of a female during mating season, to a safer place. Although her kids may have been screaming in the background of a home video, Nicole showed them by example how to deal compassionately with a creature much smaller than we are. Maybe they can grow up with more sensitivity, or even open minds, to learn more about these fabulous wonders of nature.
You too, are a wonder of nature. Use your curiosity and intelligence to spread the word about the critical importance of biodiversity. Learn all you can and share all you can about the true costs of toxins, pesticides, fungicides and herbicides. Learn all the alternatives, among them electronic devices, hand-monitoring, using biological controls, correct mulching, and heat treatments such as foam.
Finally, see yourself as a hero. See yourself as a defender of our astonishing planet. Watch, enjoy, and share, anything ever presented by David Attenborough, E.O. Wilson, or Jane Goodall. Be part of it all. Be part of protecting our incredible world, by simply seeing it through caring eyes.