Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Fateful, or fatal, choice

At first, the Buddhist rule against killing sounds doable, reasonable, right. Similar to one of Christianity’s 10 commandments, it’s familiar and it seems, well, reasonable.

It’s easy to observe the do-not-kill rule regarding a beguiling kitten or a darling puppy. But how about the fly aiming for food on your kitchen counter . . . the slug you encounter on the path to your front door . . . the mosquito buzzing in the dark as you drift off to sleep . . . ? Those creatures are not cute, cuddly or loveable.

And neither are any number of other living things, from the mouse that leaves visible proof it’s been in your larder to a rabid dog or raccoon, from dangerous wild animals to a human who has done heinous things.

A person wanting to lose weight sometimes lists every single thing s/he ate during a day. What if a list instead itemized every being, large and small, that was killed during the same period? Would the rule against killing still sound reasonable? Is it worth working harder to live up to? Is it possible to live up to?

What would the rule against killing have to do with hunting and fishing – in fact, how would it affect those who buy the flesh of already-killed animals to eat?

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