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Ethical Dilemmas in Daily Life - Rats in My Backyard, Part 2

Ugur Akinci

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Then one day I saw one rat, a single big one, struggling to walk on my patio and clearly dying. Something was wrong with the animal. He had difficulty standing on his legs, shivering, with strange formations around its mouth. Ahhh. . . my heart sank! POISON. . . So there it was, the INTENDED result of my Home Depot campaign to clean up my backyard from this infestation. It really didn't feel right and I still find it hard to explain the feeling.

I felt a wave of nausea climbing up my spine while I couldn't help but recall. . .

. . those pictures of temples in India where they actually FEED the rats with milk everyday because a rat is a “consort” of the deity Ganesh, the elephant-headed son of Shiva and Parvati.

Imagine. . . hundreds of rats running towards the temple when the brass bell chimes, to take their place around this huge round metal tray filled with milk to the brim and with low enough a rim to allow the rats drink easily from it. . .

I found myself thinking:

“If I am not to kill a rat because it is a living being and it feels wrong to intentionally kill a being that I am not forced to kill. . . then why am I not feeding it and helping it?”

We feed the birds. We feed our pets. And rats are not pets – excepts in some temples in India. I could not explain to myself satisfactorily why I should stop killing rats and not start feeding them.

The solution – I hoped – would again be provided by the nature herself.

Since I live in a wooded area, some nights all hell breaks loose in my backyard and at least three or four different kinds of night prowlers (shrews, cats, raccoons, snakes, owls? and god knows what else) go at it like there's no tomorrow. From their squeals and screams you know some heavy duty “cleansing” is going on.

Some mornings I find feathers lying around, pieces of fur, and other body parts of unknown origin, a testimony to the merciless carnage the night before. And yet, some morning I find nothing at all.

So, an unexpected question started to glow in the back of my consciousness. . .

(Concludes in Part 3)


Ugur Akinci, Ph. D. is a senior writer and web content consultant with 20 years of experience.

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