Consider the Spider.
Please take a moment to consider the way in which people generally react towards spiders and how this is relevant to the way we live our lives.
Recently I recalled a situation in which I was watching a group of people who had found a big spider in its web in a corner of a roof overhang (I forget the proper name for a roof overhang). I watched as they took a ball and threw it at the spider in the hope that they could hit it and kill it. Eventually they succeeded in knocking it down to the ground, where they then crushed it completely.
I started thinking about why they had done this. The spider had not done them any harm and was not going to either (the roof was more than adequately out of the way). I am also pretty sure that these people already knew that. But still they felt threatened by this creature. They were so fearful of it that they felt compelled to destroy and eliminate this perceived threat BEFORE it could do anything to them.
My impression is that these people felt fear towards this creature because ultimately they did not completely understand the spider and the nature of the circumstances. They were convinced that the mere presence of this spider was an intolerable threat, but they did not stop to really consider the validity of their feelings. Their fear was completely irrational and it caused them to behave completely irrationally. That spider was no more likely to do them any harm than a bird sitting in a tree, yet they would never think of trying to destroy a bird like that.
My point here is that we are afraid of what we don’t understand. When we are confronted with an experience that is new, it causes anxiety. And it would seem that when we fear something, our first impulse is to eliminate the object of fear, instead of trying to first understand it. We would rather avoid the unknown than confront it and attempt to demystify it and thereby learn to accomodate it in our lives.
A very good example of this phenomenon would be the way in which people react when someone presents a new idea. This person gets attacked and shot down. People refuse to listen to him/her, but become unreasonable and stubborn no matter how valid the new idea may be. Historically this has happened many times. And all too often the person who introduces a new idea to their society ends up dying for it. In many societies, someone who is different to the rest of the group is persecuted simply because people don’t understand the different person and so they fear them and attempt to get rid of the perceived threat.
The next time you find yourself reacting to a situation with blind fear, the next time you find yourself wanting to destroy something because of a perceived threat, stop for a minute. Ask yourself how valid your feelings are. As a society and as individuals we all need to learn to be more reasonable and open-minded to new experiences and ideas. Above all, always be aware of what you are feeling, thinking and acting and continually ask yourself if your thoughts, feelings and actions are appropriate for the situation.