Staring at a blank notepad for a long time doesn’t produce a journal entry. Or maybe it just will, if you stare long enough.
“You have to choose between the snails and the tree” I was told. I was in an ethical dilemma over handling a situation in my Garden. Leaves of a medium-sized shrub in our garden were suddenly having big holes in it. A closer inspection led to the discovery of a colony of snails, slowly and steadily munching all the leaves of the shrub. If I leave the snails to finish off the leaves, the shrub will die and then the snail population will migrate to other plants. But is killing of snails ethical?
The principle of non-violence seems to have been embedded somewhere deep in my mind. It always comes up with the question before I can even think of harming a creature. I have killed several mosquitoes, but I have spared even more. Before I raise my hand to kill a mosquito the question pops up again in my mind. Is killing of mosquitoes ethical? Afterall they suck blood for survival. Once the question comes to my mind, I find myself gently prodding the mosquito to fly away, instead of squashing it into a two-dimensional non-living-object.
As a child, I used to watch my grandfather killing rats, after they had been caught in the mousetrap. He used to drown them in a bucket of water, before disposing them off. Somehow it never appealed to me (or my brother). During later periods of our life, whenever we caught a mouse, we used to take it far away from our house and leave the mousetrap open, so that the mouse can escape into wilderness. “What happens to the mouse after that is its fate!”
Back to my Garden. The question was taking its toll on my mind. If I leave the snails without doing anything, all the plants in the garden are at risk, but eliminating them is a huge ethical issue. After consulting with Zubin, who went into greater lengths to explain about symbiosis and lack of it, I finally bought a bottle of snail-killer over the weekend. With a heavy heart, I chopped off the branches of the shrub, and used the snail-killer to eliminate the snails.
I could only find shells of dead snails in the garden today. The non-violent side of my mind was really upset of the whole affair. It got a slight reprive as I saw a small-child-snail crawling up the branch to start it all over again.