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Don't kill a spider

by Ashley Tong 2 years ago in humanity
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an open love letter

Before I begin, it has to be declared:

I am not going to pretend to be an expert on spiders by trying to debunk all the myths about them, because there are others who do better, and are more qualified on the subject. This is simply a manifesto of love for my favourite animal.

My memories escape me, but it may have been my first Halloween party, or rather pedestrian, an afternoon playing under my mother’s grand piano, that I first encountered this eight-legged critter, in costume or in real. In any case, I couldn’t have been more than four years old.

Growing up with a brother whom I always thought was set out to become an entomologist, bugs were play things in our household, and yes I am well aware that spiders aren’t bugs, but there was a time when insects, bugs, and anthropoids were one and the same to my infantile knowledge. Owing to our penchant for unusual activities for toddlers, I was spared the misfortune of developing what seems to haunt a vast majority of the people I know, Arachnophobia, a fear of spiders.

Not unlike other phobias, Arachnophobia can be instigated from the mere sight of the reaction to spiders from the people who suffer from the phobia, in other words, it’s a cultivated response, so in order to dismantle an irrational fear, instilling a little enlightenment on spiders seems to me an apposite antivenom to a venom that in reality poses no threat to us.

I think we humans fancy thinking that we are such compelling creatures, but in the eyes (eight of them if we are talking about the house spiders we are ever likely to meet) of a spider, none of us is ever going to top the list of person of interest, with the simple explanation that we are far too large for them to devour as prey. And on the off chance that you are bitten by a spider, know that it is nigh impossible for you to be suffering, and for the lack of a better term, you probably deserved it by deeming it necessary to threaten its life.

On the other hand, if you’re stung by a mosquito, an actual arthropod that feeds on human blood, the discomfort you will experience is simply greater. And as luck would have it, they are amongst other indoor pests, a preferred meal for spiders. If you choose to leave the spiders alone, like they do you, you may just find them your most valuable ally in pest control, eliminating other six-legged nuisances, those who carry diseases, and on top of that, it’s all free of charge, and you can have your consciences in tact.

I am going to stay true to my declaration, and steer clear of the further attempt of representing spiders as my client with the charges of assault, as I too have no eligibility in the matters of law, so I will return to my voyage of advocating for my beloved creature.

It does not go past me what an unpopular opinion it is to broadcast my love for spiders, but I also indulge in the fact that I am not alone in this sector. Three years ago, whilst on Christmas break from university, I returned home to London, and was lucky enough to catch the exhibition of French artist Louise Bourgeois in Tate Modern, one that I so desperately wanted to visit. Bourgeois was of course most famous for her near 30 feet spider sculpture ‘maman’. Maman in direct translation means ‘mummy’, as the art piece was created as a composition to the love she had for her mother, expressing the convolution of a relationship between a mother and her child.

For Bourgeois, the primary allusion of the spider was the representative of strength, patience, protection against evil and above all indispensability, much like spiders are in our environment, and mothers are to us. It is an irrefutable comfort to me that even though I am only here with my wits and what not, decades ago this beautifully misconstrued little thing managed to capture the attention of someone who could shed lights in such an eloquent and influential fashion on what we have misunderstood for so long.

Next time when you see a spider chilling under the same roof as you, say thank you and get on with your day.


About the author

Ashley Tong

If I were a painter, linguistics would be my palette, and poetry my favourite brush. If I were an artist, nature would be my muse, and music my companion, and I shall endeavour to depict life as I see it.

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