I was six years old, playing in the garage with the neighbour kids.
“Kill it or spare it?” someone shouted in my ears.I tried to recall their last few words from memory. They’ve been discussing the fate of a may bug, I think, someone proposed an execution.
I was startled. I didn’t get it. Why would we execute a bug in the first place?
But before I could come up with anything the debate has moved on to the “how“. Not because we decided on the first motion, but because someone proposed electrocuting it. Then it was hanging, but they’ve dismissed that one because the bug was not heavy enough. Someone suggested placing it between two bricks and see how long it lasts.
It was as if the question whether to kill was settled by the more complicated one of how to do it.
I finally found my voice and asked why.
“Why, are you a may bug lover?”
Am I? No, I didn’t like may bugs, they were annoying.
But do I have to love them as a species to oppose the idea of killing one? And if I claim that I have sentimental attachment to it, do they spare the bug? Not because it is wrong to kill, but because someone their own size is against it?
And most pressingly, should I risk my peers’ approval for a bug I don’t even like?
Someone suggested setting the bug on fire and everyone rolled with the new idea. Another proposed emptying a box of matches and placing the bug in the box “so that it cannot run away” and it was so mesmerizingly cruel that they started doing it without any further ado. I watched in horror as they prepared a tiny pyre for the execution. I started wondering where the leftover match sticks would go if we burnt the box – perhaps in self-defense.
At the end they didn’t do it. An adult came in and yelled at us.
We were playing with a box of matches next to barrels of gasoline.