Plunging into tepid bathwater, my fingertips chase the black spider. It surfs the soap froth, riding the miniature rollers in the tumultuous sea. My hand surfaces from beneath, like the ominous mouth of a sea creature. I pause, suspending the pathetic creature on my fingertip, soggy and easy to squish. But rather than crushing its limp form, I deposit the spider on the edge of the tub. I sit and watch it kick as the pool of suds evaporates. Finally, one of its legs breaks the surface tension that plasters its delicate limbs together. It flexes, like a finger, tasting the air. Before long the spider has righted itself. It twitches several times, than limps along the white enamel rim of the tub, a dark speck dragging a bent leg. Dropping onto the floor, it disappears.
Sliding back into the depths of the soapy bathwater, I bask in the joy of rescuing a bug. I smile, for this is the happiness of having had the power and opportunity to keep one little creature on this earth alive. I picture it now, scuttering into a small, craggy hole of the house. It will build a web, and hunt flies and pace the buoyant threads. It will die in a week and the sweeper will devour its dusty cobweb when I clean my room next month. No one else will ever know it existed, and perhaps you say it would not matter if it had existed. But maybe it did have a purpose; perhaps it existed so that I could decide to let it live.
We all have half-drowned bugs between our fingers. We have a choice: to squish or not to squish? This I believe is our test, each as a human being, to decide if they matter. If we decide to squish, what then? Just another black smear in a wad of tissue tossed in the trashcan. But if we save the spider, that is the first step to changing the world. For if today, we can show a little kindness to some of the more humble walks of life, – take the time to fish spiders out of bathwater, rescue beetles from swimming pools, or shepherd a worm across a particularly hot stretch of sidewalk- then surely, one day, in a tomorrow hopefully not too far away we can learn to love one another.
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