All Of Creation

Posted: August 7, 2007 in Compassion, Discrimination, Homelessness

Yesterday morning after I had written and posted "An Empty Pot Of Gold" I was feeing somewhat dark and gloomy. Having written about my friend Cassie had me thinking about human frailties and how sometimes no matter what we do there are things that are simply beyond our control. Then something happened that further saddened me.

Shortly before 9 AM while waiting for a bus at the downtown transit center I happened to look down and spotted a bee on the bench next to me.  

My first impulse was to avoid getting too close. Bee’s sting you know. There are people who have severe allergic reactions to a bee sting. Fortunately I’m not one of those people. I have however been stung by bees a few times in my life so I know how painful it can be.

Then I thought to just gently shoo it away. That usually works providing you avoid using sudden movements and, as a result, make the bee think that you’re trying to hurt it. But just as I was about to shoo it away I noticed that it wasn’t behaving normally – or at least what I consider to be normal bee behavior. As I took a closer look I realized that this bee was dying. Don’t ask me how I knew – I just did.

For the next ten minutes I watched as the bee struggled to walk and move about. From time to time is seemed to fall over onto its side. Yet, each time it forced itself to stand on all six feet. A couple of times it tried to use its wings but couldn’t. I must admit that I was left in awe at its tenacity to survive – even in its present condition.

About 5 minutes before the bus arrived, someone else walked up and begin to take a seat on the bench next to where I was and asked what I was looking at. When I said that I was watching a bee the person said: "Kill it. They sting."

I almost shouted the word: "No!"

Since I’m not an entomologist, I don’t know a whole lot about insects and I certainly don’t know all that much about bees other than some of them make the kind of honey that humans like to eat. So I don’t know how long the average life span of a bee is. I don’t know if this bee was dying from old age or if it was dying as a result of being poisoned. But somehow I couldn’t bring myself to kill it. It has its own life cycle after all – and who am I to interfere?

In the end what I did was pick the bee up with my bus pass and place it where it wouldn’t be stepped or sat on.

After boarding the bus I thought about how the person who had said to kill the bee did so without any regard to a living creature – how this person had totally disregarded that small life simply because it was a creature that this person didn’t particularly like. More than that, I realized how many people have that same disregard for persons who are homeless.

I don’t know if it’s because we don’t like that fact that the homeless aren’t as well dressed as we are; or because some of them panhandle; or because some have mental disabilities; or some have substance abuse problems; or because of a million other misconceptions we have about homelessness.

It seems to me morally degenerate of us to dismiss and disregard the homeless because of their socially disadvantaged lives. Regardless of that, the homeless are still people. They are still entitled to be treated with some human dignity – the same type of dignity we would want shown to us if the shoe were on the other foot.

Could it be that we scorn the homeless because their very presences only serves as a brilliant, shining light that illuminates and exposes our own short comings; our lack of true compassion and caring?

Later yesterday afternoon while at the transit center again, I went and looked to see if the bee was where I had placed it. It was. It had died.

The Dalai Lama is quoted as saying:

"Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them humanity cannot survive."

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