In Defense of Spiders

JULIA SERRA | OPINION COLUMNIST

Most people are at least a little afraid of spiders. They appear out of nowhere, carving a dent in a once pleasant day. Perhaps you call for help, or perhaps you’re courageous, wrap it in a tissue grave and close your eyes. We wipe the blood off our hands and move on, perhaps a little shaken, but our lives quickly recover from the fear.

For the spider however, its time has ended; and for what? To relieve our temporary discomfort? Are we as humans really so selfish as to embrace this as a way of life? I understand that this seems dramatic. In reality, a spider has an incredibly small impact in this world. Squishing a spider once in awhile is not going to ruin the ecosystem. One could even argue that this is the way the world was designed. But it’s more than simply maintaining the delicate balance of the natural world. In not killing spiders, we are given the opportunity to rise above the parameters of nature and use the uniqueness of humanity for a common good.

As humans, we tend to flaunt our superiority over other species. This gift of consciousness gives us rights to rule the natural world as we see fit. The spider doesn’t need to live because the human is threatened by it. But shouldn’t our consciousness, what makes us uniquely human, exempt us from the animalistic killing instincts? Through this consciousness, humans do indeed achieve a level of superiority over the rest of the animal kingdom. However, with this superiority comes responsibility.

Our consciousness gives us the ability to logically assess a situation outside of our instincts. It’s impossible for a spider to have any malicious intentions. It doesn’t show up in your shower because it wants to see the fear in your eyes. Its only goal is survival. Like us, it wants to exist in peace: to be well fed and warm. Unlike us, it lacks the consciousness to be able to avoid those who are less than fond of it. Why should a spider die because of the way it was created? When you set it free, you overcome your animal instincts and accept the responsibility of humanity: not to rule the natural world, but to take care of it.

We can apply this thinking to our human interactions as well. We live in a world built on competition. It seems as if one cannot rise to the top without pushing others to the bottom. One might argue that this is the natural way of things, but isn’t it our humanity that allows us to transcend these natural ways of being? If we can muster up the consciousness to ignore the inferiority of something so insignificant as a spider, can we not ignore the perceived inferiority of something so valuable as another human being?

The natural world may live in accordance with “the survival of the fittest,” but we, as humans, are privileged to be able to ignore this is in a social context. Not killing a bug, like helping another person, is all about respect. When you take a moment to set a spider free, you glorify its existence. It becomes easier to respect inferior insects and your human equals. We don’t need to compete for survival. Let those who are fallen rise, and let the spiders, even if they are only insignificant fear mongers, live.

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