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Fear and Loathing

The underside of the wee brown bat we massacred on 4/23/24. RIP.


We can't stop here, this is bat country.


-Hunter J Thompson, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas


Do all men kill the things they do not love?


William Shakespeare, Merchant of Venice





The credentialed journalists in the courtroom were writing furiously with pen and paper. Clearly, they hadn't lost the skill.  But it seemed quaint nonetheless, and telling in its retro ordinariness. The basic tools of reporting were engaged: listen, record, remain skeptical. But once in the studio these scribes let it rip with gleeful analysis and sounded almost righteous at times. Who could blame them? Who can blame any of us? We're all wrung out, waiting for the day that the man who has created such havoc in our body politic is taken away in shackles. Back in the 18th century, not that long ago in many respects, he would have been hung or drawn and quartered. Now, we are "civilized," evolved, and the rule of law presses on, albeit slow as molasses.


Then there is the fear factor.  A journalist on MSNBC and a juror or two expressed dismay at feeling uneasy. Let us applaud their courage and, yes, thank them for their service.


And I wasn't even planning to write about this today. Not at all. I was thinking of something else entirely: a bat in our apartment. The day had already been permeated with fear and loathing in the courtroom, in the Middle East, on the college campuses, and as we sat down to relax in front of the last episode of Astrid,  a delightful French detective series on Netflix, I spotted a strange swiftly moving black shape scurry into my office from the living room. It looked like a tarantula and I shrieked, a damsel in distress, my husband the knight in shining armor as he wielded a broom and I held my phone's flashlight aloft in the closet. Yikes! What was that? How did it get in here? Will it harm us?


We attacked it ruthlessly.


Then it was over. The creature was dead. We scooped it up and put it into a plastic bag without touching it. "I think it's a bat," my nature-savvy husband said. We looked up "bats," we read the word "rabies," got more freaked out. And then, remorse. We wanted to apologize to the endangered creature we had killed, a wee brown bat, so essential to our ecosystem. And the more existential question:  Why do we so mindlessly kill what we fear?


Self-preservation and survival is a reflex action when we are attacked or threatened unexpectedly, our sense of safety shattered, that's a given.  But why respond with obliterating force when such force is not necessary. The metaphor is obvious, I am sure. Do I have to spell it out? What would happen if we resisted animal instinct and gazed at the life form that has become our—real or imagined—enemy, in all its nakedness and vulnerability? Dear reader, can you answer this question?


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