I teach a Russian martial art called Systema. One of my long-time students, Christy is an avid fan of Entomology and as a passion for bugs. In case you may not know, Entomology is the study of bugs.
Yes, bugs. These crawling, flying and slithering creatures have been irritating humans since the dawn of time. I could not understand why anyone would have an interest in this subject? I respect her and her unique choice, but could not connect to it. Typically, I was the one to step on, swat away or spray these irritants into oblivion whenever the opportunity came forth.
1. Until Yesterday
My perspective changed when I watched Simon Keys speaking on Nat Geo Wild. Simon Keys has had a passion for reptiles since he was a child - snakes especially intrigued him. Over the years, he has gained knowledge by keeping and breeding various species; including pythons, boas, and rear fanged species. He and his wife, Nadine, live in a relatively small apartment on the outskirts of Johannesburg with a slew of snakes.
Not just your run-of-the-mill 6 inch harmless types, but green mambas, spitting cobras and other reptiles that can easily end your life. He is a snake handler and his “apartment mates” are serpents that have been injured or sick and are in need of care. He and his wife take care of them.
2. We have No Right to Harm
During the interview, Simon said something very profound that altered the way I viewed these inhabitants of Mother Earth. “We may not understand snakes. We may be afraid of them, but we have no right to kill or injure them, particularly on purpose. We are invading their territory and it is up to us to learn to live under the conditions of cooperation. We have no right to harm.”
3. Be Grateful
Bold, brash and completely accurate. These words were as stinging as the creatures I was trying to eliminate from my surroundings. Truth can be as painful as a hornet's string.
During Systema class, I often teach about concepts such as respect and dealing with fear, yet these concepts are not extended (or applied) to all creatures. It took a snake-lover to reinforce the point that I missed in 30 years of martial arts training. Life matters, regardless of the form or shape it takes.
I still do not understand why anyone would study insects or have a fascination with black mambas. Nevertheless, I am quite grateful that some people do.