I’m a Buzz-Kill Mosquito Slayer

Preemptive strikes, vengeance, and second thoughts.

Photo by Егор Камелев on Unsplash

One day during a two-year teach abroad in Taiwan in 2007, I was preparing for a dance recital with three Canadian friends. I saw a large mosquito land on my friend’s milky white leg and immediately begin to pump itself up to its heart’s content, bulging red, gripping on for more. I swatted at the mosquito with my palm. “Got it!” I turned to her, triumphantly. She looked at me disturbed and said laughingly but in earnest, “I didn’t want you to kill it!”

I have to admit, I am a mosquito killer, whether they asked for it or not. I have gone as far as to buy an electric swatter, with a probable 95% kill rate. You just turn on the zapper, locate your target, and bam! Mosquito toast.

But sometimes I wonder, “What has the mosquito done to me?” And even if that mosquito were to bite me, does that give me the right to kill it? And what does that say about me, that I enact pre-emptive and vengeful strikes against mosquitos, and with gusto to boot?

This brings me to a deeper question about self-preservation. Yes, of course, we could argue that the inconvenience of a mosquito bite doesn’t qualify as a threat (I’m not even talking about Zika here), but if we break the concept of self-preservation down to its simplest form, it could fit well enough.

Socrates once said, “It is better to suffer an injustice than inflict one.”

I am not saying this to defend my mosquito-killing proclivities, but I do see similarities because, in the end, self-preservation aims to maintain one’s integrity, one´s self-interest. So, the irritating crescendo and diminuendo violin hum in one’s ear, followed by a prick, and itchy red bump fills me with indignation, and I must admit…rage.

How could this little bug dare to threaten my self-interest of rest, peace of mind, and bodily comfort as I go about my business unaware of the attack?

But it does raise some ideas about morality. Like Socrates once said, and I paraphrase, it is better to suffer an injustice than inflict one. This thought has come into my mind as I reach for my killing racket. I wonder if I should just let this one fly away, or even...and I shudder…bite me. In the end, it is looking out for its own self-preservation, just like I am.

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