“The enemy is fear. We think it is hate; but, it is fear.”
🎙NOTE: This can be listened to as an audio recording here.🎙
Happy mid-March! What are you up to this weekend? I hope you’re up to something that brings you joy. I’m sure you’re aware that St. Patrick’s Day (Lá Fhéile Pádraig) is today, but did you know …?
- The real St. Patrick wasn’t Irish.
- He didn’t drive the snakes out of Ireland; many see this as symbolism for banishing the Celtic “heathens”.
- Adding green dye to food/beer symbolizes not only the green countryside, but also the time of the Great Famine, when Irish people were so deprived of food they resorted to eating grass; their mouths were green as they died.
- March 17th is also the feast day of the original Cat Lady (St. Gertrude, the Patron Saint of Cats).
➡ You can get all the Deetz about AllaDat in This Post
We stand somewhere between the mountain and the ant.
-Native American (Onondaga) Proverb
I share those St. Patrick Day facts with you because it’s just one of the many ways that we continue to follow traditions without questioning them. We let ancient beliefs and centuries of practices go unquestioned. Sometimes it’s harmless; other times it’s quite harmful. One particularly harmful example is the unquestioned belief in being superior to any species or group within a species is a belief to be undone.
That unquestioned belief is at the heart of this heartfelt post.
Speaking of judgey-judgements and blindly following the masses, I’d like to ask you about a common one that comes up in communities around the world. How do you feel when you read, hear, or see the word “Spider”? What does the sight of an insect do to you? What are your thoughts about Arachnids?
I ask because yesterday was Save A Spider Day. Seriously, it’s a real day. And frankly, it should be. It may seem as nonsensical to you as celebrating an unquestioned evangelical saint and green-food-dye-day is to me, but it’s important.
Hear me out …
In a previous post I explained the importance of questioning our thoughts, judgements, and beliefs. I explained how it ripples out to the universe and how taking responsibility for this matters. But questioning our thoughts and beliefs and judgments doesn’t end with our little lives.
I believe it should extend to everything our eyes see.
This includes every being; strangers, spiders and such. This questioning of thoughts, emotions, and beliefs should include ALL beings with whom we share the universe.
Here’s an easy example: Yesterday, on our Conscious Companion Facebook page, I shared a wonderful teaching moment that Hocus Pocus & I had with some lovely Canada Geese. You can check that out here. That respectful experience between three species is just one example of how we can choose to change they way we treat others in every moment.
All creatures have value whether we find them cuddly, affectionate, beautiful or otherwise. Our own perspective–in a way–is neither here nor there. Theology, at its best, can help to liberate us from our own anthropocentric limitations. – Rev. Dr. Andrew Linzey
I get it. Not all species are easy on the eye of the beholder. And physical characteristics set aside, not everyone has had a positive experience with every species on the planet. But the looming fact remains: Whether you’re a person or pet, those early life experiences with any species (or lack thereof) need to be positive ones.
For example, if I were to choose to hang onto a grudge for the guard geese who used to attack me (while I was riding my bike to school) every day, I would be cruel or careless to the Canada Geese whom we encounter every day. And if I were never exposed to snakes early in life in a positive light, I would have never become a herpetologist who taught people to set aside their fear for the Slithering Ones.
Every experience adds up.
And so does every judgement, thought, and belief.
We don’t need to look far to see how hateful judgements and unquestioned beliefs deeply affect lives. Just this week we witnessed another attack, based in fear. This can end. But it has to begin within.
Taking responsibility for your beliefs and judgments gives you the power to change them. ~ Byron Katie
I believe change begins with changing the way we see the seemingly little things that scare us. The little frights are merely symbolic of greater fears. What scares us is an invitation to question our fear. What frightens us is an invitation to fearlessly look within. What evokes revulsion, terror, or hatred is an invitation.
What we are a afraid of is an invitation to inquire.
Of all the liars in the world, sometimes the worst are our own fears. – Rudyard Kipling
Last Night’s Fright Night
So, let’s get to the fearful fright we had last night. Do you follow synchronicity in your life? I never understood what that meant until I learned about how powerful and transformative it can be. Now I love how things are always In Sync. Last night, there was a frightful sight in our house. Then yesterday, I discovered it was Save a Spider Day! That’s why I am so inspired to share with you now!
Ok, friend, find your comfy spot. Grab a yummy drink. Invite a Cuddle Buddy. Settle in. It’s gonna get Real … and also funny. 😉
If we are to use our tools in the service of fitting in on Earth, our basic relationship to nature–even the story we tell ourselves about who we are in the universe–has to change. – Janine M. Benyus
Okay so here’s the rundown. Last night I had been in my office for a couple of hours working on my new website and participating in a soul sister’s live Q&A call for her chakra series. You can check out her program here. Mr. Beaux was with me. Hocus Pocus was sound asleep in her bed next to us. Knox, was strangely not in the vicinity.
After the call ended, I went downstairs to pour myself a glass of wine and begin the process of winding down. When I entered the kitchen, not only did I discover that all of my chips and queso had been devoured to my dismay, but Knox was wide-eyed, low to the ground, looking crazed. (I was honestly less concerned about Knox looking crazed than my shock at how and why my carefully cached chips and queso had been devoured. I felt like the dude in this French Fry scene from the movie “Men At Work”.
After I realized Knox couldn’t have possibly eaten the chips and queso because the lid to the queso had been replaced (and he lacks opposable thumbs) 😉 I went to ask my husband about the thievery. As I was leaving the kitchen, I looked over and saw Knox frantically pawing at something under the dishwasher. Knox has a great recall so I called him to come over to me. Rather than coming quickly as usual, Knox stayed put, but glanced back at me. I could see that his eyes were fully dilated.
At this point I realize he has something cornered. A critter.
So, I go to investigate. I look underneath the dishwasher where he’s crouching but I see nothing. I call Knox away from the area, reward him for coming, and get down on the ground for a closer look. I see nothing still. Hoping it wasn’t another mouse, I leave the kitchen and head back upstairs do discuss The Chip Incident with the suspected thief.
A few minutes later, I come back down to discover Knox playing with something at the foot of the stairs. He’s frantically pawing at something again, but this time he takes a several swat-breaks to shake his head, spit and salivate as if he has something poisonous in his mouth. Then he goes back to pawing at something in the crevice of the stairs. I quickly recall him away from whatever he’s attacking. He complies.
Hocus is intently watching all of this go down, anticipating when she can intervene. I ask Hocus for a down-stay and she complies. Now cat and canine are watching intently as I creep towards the critter.
I can see it.
Doing its best to make itself a small target as possible, a gigantic alien-like insect sat motionless at the bottom of the stairs. Now I am doing my best to work up the courage to capture it. At this point, I am aware that my attitude and actions will either elicit an aggressive or calm response from both feline and canine, so I keep my cool.
Internally, I’m experiencing full on heebie-jeebies.
Stay with me here.
Suppressing the visceral reaction I’m experiencing just looking at this thing, I am aware that I need to act quickly. Hocus, being the ever protector, will go after something if she thinks it is a threat. Knox, being the ever hunter, will kill something if he thinks he can eat it. Neither of these are options.
Not only do I not know how toxic this creature is if consumed by cat or canine, I am doing my best to keep everybody calm and safe. Including myself! And including this creature who is now huddled in a corner. As I creep closer, doing my best to work up courage to investigate this alien insect, I was surprised to notice that I wasn’t afraid.
I felt compassion.
Crouched in a corner, exposed and vulnerable, this little critter was just trying to survive. It was absolutely terrified. I could intuitively tell by its body posture. And I could feel it. I was moved even more when my suspicions and senses about its fear and the harmlessness of its nature were confirmed.
Acting quickly, I grabbed a conch shell. My intention was to carefully scoop up the creepy critter without harming it, letting it escape, and lawd help us all in the house — without it actually touching me. (If any of my entomologist friends are reading this, I know they are laughing).
I set aside my fears and went to work.
Based on the behavior and structure of this alien insect, I assumed capturing it would be a challenge. Thankfully I was incorrect. I had to coax it into the conch shell. Rather than fighting back or fleeing, this long legged being shut down. It wouldn’t move. It put up no fight.
It was terrified.
And when I knew this, I was no longer afraid. I saw it differently. My heart began to open, and all I wanted to do was help it. I saw it as someone who needed help. And I was willing to be of assistance to this long-legged alien.
Funny how that happens when we can see clearly. Funny how fear blocks the truth. Funny how an open heart allows us to see others as they really are. -Not as monsters, but as beings just trying to get by.
When the fear leaves, love walks in.
With an open heart and questioned mind, a carefully navigated the creature into the conch shell. While simultaneously telling him he’s safe, I thanked Hocus and Knox for allowing that to go as smoothly as it did.
I then brought the little being down into our basement, intending to release him in a safe spot. Slowly and carefully he crawled out of the conch shell. He took a moment to pause where I had placed him. Then he slowly walked away. I wished him well and thanked him for teaching me.
A good deed done to an animal is as meritorious as a good deed done to a human being, while an act of cruelty to an animal is as bad as an act of cruelty to a human being. -Mohammed
Seeing Species In A New Light
I would be doing all species a dis-service if I wasn’t honest in sharing this with you: Just googling for an image of that creature gave me the full on hee-bee-jeebee chills. But that’s normal considering it’s only the second time I’ve seen it, and via my PC I’m looking at an image of it magnified 50 times bigger than it is in real life. So yeah, it’s still a little creepy to look at up close. And unless I continue to have positive associations with that creature again, I may recoil a bit. Like any person or pet, until we change the underlying emotional response to a perceived threat, we will respond fearfully.
Although it was a really moving experience, I have not been completely desensitized to this species yet. But give me some chips, queso, and a Guinnes while I observe it again and I’ll be feeling much more comfortable with this critter skittering! But the next time I encounter one, my response will be filled with kindness because now I know better.
By ethical conduct toward all creatures, we enter into a spiritual relationship with the universe.
–Albert Schweitzer, The Teaching of Reverence for Life
If you aren’t feeling compassion for “creepy crawlies” yet, I understand. For as long as I can remember I’ve been terrified of roaches of all shapes and sizes. In fact, I was so afraid of them, I hated them. So I killed them.
It was only through my career at the Audubon Zoo, that I began to have compassion for creatures who I once killed as soon as they came into my sight. My fear of them was so intense my immediate reaction was to kill them. Destroying them did not stem from anger. It stemmed from a deep-seated fear.
But since all fears are learned, all fears can be undone.
“The enemy is fear. We think it is hate; but, it is fear.”
Each of us has the ability to remain fearful or become empowered. This includes every species in the universe. Once the root of the fear is recognized, we can change the underlining emotion. Some fears take longer to undo than others but it is possible. Again, this does not pertain to specific species; All is One. The scientific principles behind this pertain to every species on the planet.
If we try to get rid of fear or anger without knowing their meaning, they will grow stronger and return.– Deepak Chopra
I am forever grateful to my entomologist friends for teaching me to see even roaches in a new light. Through witnessing their kindness and compassion towards “creepy critters”, and their unending patience with helping me to unravel my deeply rooted fears, I learned to see insects of all shapes and sizes in a new light.
I even “adopted” an 8 inch centipede as my first venomous pet while doing field research with the Louisiana pine snake project. (Looking back, I realize I actually stole a viable female from the wild, and should have left her where I found her; lesson learned.) Although, she was initially unsettling to look at, and her venom is wicked powerful, I fell in love with her. She was a fierce, brilliant, and beautiful bug. I began to see her this way when I was no longer afraid of her.
Blinded by fear initially, I could not see her beauty.
If we are willing to be still and open enough to listen, wilderness itself will teach us. –Steven Harper
Fear Binds. Love Unfolds.
Speaking of beautiful and brilliant, the image above is of my closest Soul Sister utilizing her joy, love light, compassion, kindness, and beauty to contrast the scariness of creepy crawlies to kids. Liberty was the Super Hero Bug Lady who ran the Bug Mobile at Audubon where we worked together. She was beyond amazing at her job with bugs. She could transform children’s fears of insects into curiosity. The curiosity transformed aggression into kindness towards these creatures. Kids came forward instead of recoiling. They were open to learning. They were open to changing their limited perspective about all insects.
And so was I.
I learned how sensitive they are. I learned they can experience fear. I learned they have personalities. I learned they care for their young. I learned they all serve a very important purpose. I learned that the human species would not survive without them. But mainly, I learned they’re not out to get me. 😉
You have to hear this.
One of my favorite entomologist friends shared this today, and I promise you will learn something amazing about Arachnids:
I always liked to talk about the Amblypygids (Tailess Whip Scorpions) and kin recognition. These are the arachnids that most people will recognize from Harry Potter when he was being taught the curses. They actually not only recognize family members, but prefer to spend time with them, especially in stressful situations. Siblings will huddle together with mom and stroke each other with their whips to calm down when they are put into new environments. -Matt Thorne
You read that, right? Please take a moment and let that sink in. Even the scariest looking insects are not what we believe them to be; they are capable of concern for their young. They provide comfort to their family when they are scared. How is that not unlike us?
Matt continues: As a personal story, I’ve had many arachnids that are total sweethearts and completely handleable. My giant Asian forest scorpion, Beatrice, was definitely more like a dog with a crunchy exterior. She would walk right onto my hand and nuzzle my palm, and she would eat crickets right out of my hand. She was so gentle and looked like she genuinely liked to be held.
Matt also shared this humors but poignant example of how his compassion and care was witnessed by a stranger:
While evacuating for a Hurricane, I was sitting outside of my motel room holding her, letting her get some exercise crawling from hand to hand, and giving her a mealworm to snack on. In the middle of this, a man staggers out of the bar down the street and walks my way. He gets closer and then stops, trying to focus on my hand.
“Is that a scorpion?” he slurs in disbelief.
He leans in a little closer and in a conspiratorial whisper asks, “Are you a wizard?”
I nodded in the affirmative and he hurried away.
Curiosity will conquer fear even more than bravery will.
– James Stephens
Species Serving a Purpose
All life is valuable. All species serve a purpose. There is a connection and interdependence within the Whole. But are we open to accepting this? Can we become compassionate to all life?
Even after everything my entomologist friends taught me over the years, I was amazed to discover that the creature we captured in our house is considered a very beneficial insect. An entomologist has a great write up about the species on his website. You can check it out here.
It turns out, this particular critter in question is called a house centipede. He refers to them as curious. They are docile to non-prey items (you and me and our pets). He explains that the venom of house centipedes is not particularly toxic (to humans/pets) and they seldom bite. He further explains they prey on tons of unwanted house “pests” such as clothes moths and cockroaches. How cool is that?!?
And this species does all of this without charging a dime for their services. 😉
Kindness or Cruelty is a Choice.
And Choices Allow for Change.
The really cool thing about changing the way we perceive something is that it brings the power back to the observer. The power of perception lies within. We have the ability to change the way we perceive something. No one else has that power over us. When we change the way we perceive something, change occurs on all levels.
Change Is a Choice.
People aren’t the only ones that learn from observing. How we choose to react to, and how we treat other creatures with cruelty or kindness does not go unnoticed. I’m convinced that our cat and dog learn something from observing me and not experience with the creature. Had I finally reacted towards it, you can bet their response would’ve been similar in the future.
If emotions can change, so can behavior.
If we want to change the behavior of any being, we gotta dig. Aggression in all species does stem from fears, but the details are complicated. Today we will keep this simple.
Both people and animals learn that aggressive behavior gets them what they want. This can be social status, resources, or a sense of safety. Behaving aggressively comes in many forms; bullying other school kids to biting someone who tries to pet you without permission. Both of these behaviors receive desired results. Quite effectively actually. The bully feels powerful and the impinged upon pet gets the pushy person to go away. Aggression towards an Archind serves the same purpose; I kill the spider. Now he/she can’t crawl on me. Attacks on other people have the same results; I shoot them; now they can’t impinge upon me.
But until we look at the underlying emotions and beliefs or prior experiences that have created the fear, we cannot undo the fear that’s led to the aggressive behavior.
Harm no other beings. They are your brothers and sisters.
So, all of this discussion about “creepy crawlies” is now coming back full circle. This brings us back to the eight-legged species of the day: The Spider! A souls sis shared that spider meme with me yesterday and it made me laugh out loud. As silly as it seems, now you’ll think twice before you kill your 8-legged roommate. 😉 And let’s not forget what our entomologist friend Matt shared with us about spiders having social behavior!
Bottom line: Spiders are awesome. Spiders deserve respect.
As do all insects in every corner and crevice of the world. Bugs are doin’ the best they can, man. And they’re doing a damn good job at what they do. Let’s do our damnedest to be better to them.
We are the earth, made of the same stuff; there is no other, no division between us and “lower” or “higher” forms of being.
Have you seen Ellen Degenere’s stand-up comedy bit about how quick we are to kill “creepy crawlies” and other critters? You can check it out here. It’s so true! And if you really think about it, we see humans doing this with other humans, too.
Fear is Fear. Love is Love. With whom we love or fear, the species does not matter. It’s all the same.
I hold that, the more helpless a creature, the more entitled it is to protection by man from the cruelty of man. -Mahatma Gandhi
Ok, so here’s something you may not know about spiders: Their symbolism is astonishing. If you have never heard about Nature symbolism, please let me explain. This tool was utilized by all of our ancestors, most of whom were deeply connected to Mother Earth and Mother Nature. My Cherokee and Celtic ancestors recognized important communication and clues that surrounded symbolic patterns in nature. In our modern-day society, we have forgotten this, and we often miss the signs, but we can learn to use our intuition to recognize these subtle messages from Spirit.
All we need is a little willingness to learn.
You can see the short post about Spider Symbolism here.
Life is as dear to a mute creature as it is to a man. Just as one wants happiness and fears pain, just as one wants to live and not die, so do other creatures. –The Dalai Lama
Compassion for Fears with A Willingness to Change
How would we see things in a new light if we weren’t judging them as bad, wrong, evil, or scary? How would everyone’s experience change if we weren’t afraid? This pertains to every species on the planet. As the title of this post asks us, are we Justifying Judgement or Choosing to Compassionately Face Fears?
I choose compassion. I choose to face every fear.
Find out what you’re afraid of and live there.
– Chuck Palahniuk
Once we remove the fear, the underlining emotion changes. When the underlining emotion changes, the behavior changes as a consequence. This is not woo; it’s actually based in science. Thoughts, beliefs, judgments and emotions are intrinsically linked.
It’s All Connected.
The fear we have about a species, person, place, idea, or experience is not our fear alone. It ripples out. It is shared. This is why we all have so much responsibility to each other.
But there’s a flip-side; the fear we have about something that scares us can give us compassion and understanding for what another soul is experiencing. We don’t have to fully understand their fear, but we can respect it and then help them to undo it. This is true for both people and pets!
Not to hurt our humble brethren is our first duty to them, but to stop there is not enough. We have a higher mission — to be of service to them wherever they require it. St. Francis of Assisi
If we understand what it feels like to experience revulsion, fear, and even anger towards something that frightens us, we can show compassion to the one who is afraid. We can understand that fear is at the root of all anger and aggression. This includes every person, animal, and insect.
Those who are not everyday conquering some fear has not learned the secret of life. – Ralph Waldo Emerson
As I discussed in my last post about the power of our thoughts, the power to change our thoughts brings the power back to us. When we question our upset, angry, hateful, and fearful beliefs we open the door to compassion, empathy and understanding. We move out of fearful or reactive energy and shift into a loving presence. This allows gratitude and love to enter our mind.
This is what transforms worlds.
These are not trite sayings, my friend. They are true. And Love is who we all are without our stories, beliefs, judgments, and justifications. When we can tap into the compassionate side of ourselves, we will ripple that out to the world. Like a stone tossed into a pond the impact of the stone penetrating the surface of the water eventually reaches the shore.
We Are One.
Looking closely at our disgust or dismay for something frightening or unfamiliar is a doorway to a new way of seeing all beings in a new light. Finding compassion for the smallest-sized critters is no small feat, my friend. If we can show compassion to a ant, spider, or centipede that once annoyed, scared, or creeped us out, imagine how we would begin to see other communities, other nations, and other worlds of life. One seemingly small shift in perception from fear to love is the beginning to peace within and without. Empathy is the first step in conquering fear.
We are all in this together.
It will take time. It will take a little willingness on our part. When we lead by example, others learn. But will we teach and lead with love? I Am hopeful we will. I have faith in you.
What has been your experience with fears, limiting beliefs, and judgments? Has something occurred in your life where compassion became the focal point instead of fear? We would LOVE to hear❣
And it’s hard to love, there’s so much to hate
Hanging on to hope
When there is no hope to speak of
And the wounded skies above say it’s much, much too late
Well, maybe we should all be praying for time
These are the days of the empty hand
Listen without Judgement …
🎥 — George Michael, “Praying for Time”
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🔸 Be Kind.