Terrible things happen in wild country, most commonly on a micro scale you can step right over without noticing. Last night I was out with Little Bear on his evening walky. He was moving cheerfully down the driveway toward the wash – we were still in the yard – when he literally skidded to a halt on the gravel, executed a graceful 180, and headed for a clump of bush we had already passed. I was looking around not paying enough attention to what had caught his nose, and didn’t see that he had his schnoz down in a possibly dangerous hole.
Now, LB is normally very good about avoiding snakes – I have joked that he fears nothing on four legs except bulls, but he fears everything with two legs or none – so I didn’t expect him to stick his nose into a snake’s fangs. But still, this was poor management on my part. I should have watched what he was doing more carefully. The hole – and his muzzle – was covered with ants. He came up snuffing and shaking his head. He had found something dead in that hole, and the ants resented the intrusion.
He held still while I wiped the ants off his face, and I went back to the hole in time to see a larval rat emerge, also covered with ants and apparently not enjoying its very short life. I assume the mother was dead inside, but the ants weren’t waiting for the baby to die before consuming it.
I walked away pondering Deep Thoughts about how incompatible such scenes – repeated millions of times daily around me, as I know but don’t usually have to witness – are with all the talk about a loving biblical god. There’s a glib theological answer to the question of why there’s evil, suffering and death among mankind, but what did that baby rat’s ancestors do to piss god off? If life is the result of design, as it might well be for all I know, it certainly didn’t have a designer who gave a shit about individual lives.
That was kind of a depressing thought to end the day on. But then I got to thinking, there’s exactly as much hard evidence for the notion of reincarnation as there is for the Genesis story, right? And if we assume reincarnation, then maybe that writhing, suffering rat baby really contained the soul of, say, the late Senator Ted Kennedy. Yeah! Still working his horrible way through karma, from his first long-ago post-death incarnation as a bit of fauna in the gut of a dung beetle, rolling its treasure under the wheel of a moving Somali technical…
It’s mean, but it did kinda cheer me up.