Sitting in my daughter and son-in-law’s back yard, I can’t help but become aware of the copious critters around me. Many are by invitation or intention – the donkeys, pony, mule, chickens, guinea hens, turkeys, and dogs are all here on purpose.

But there are thousands of creatures around who weren’t invited. They include ants, bees, spiders, hummingbirds, bats, and more than I can count who are inhabiting this space. As humans, we persuade ourselves that we have the right to dominate or subordinate all other creatures. Thankfully, this doesn’t become the case when we are in the jungle or underwater. But otherwise, when we choose to subordinate, I think that we are making a huge mistake.

During one of my last teaching assignments, I witnessed two or three youngsters mercilessly squashing fire ants. The ants were in their natural habitats and weren’t bothering anyone or anything. And so I asked the children to leave the ants alone to survive. They objected, saying, “These are fire ants. Nobody wants them.” My answer was that the ants weren’t hurting anything or anyone and should be left to do what ants do.

The lesson is as follows: While I may have a bigger brain and a few more dollars than any of the animals around me, I find it impossible to claim a larger stake of this planet than anyone or anything else. We may have real estate, titles, land rights, etc. But we’re just earth’s tenants like the ants and caterpillars. That’s why I don’t kill them unless they present a danger or serious inconvenience.

God put all of us here for a purpose. Other creations have as much right to fulfill theirs as I do mine. Shalom.

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