Monday, July 23, 2012
If Worms Could Scream and Fish Could Cry --Peter A. Black
Tom loves to fish. Rod, bait and tackle in hand, he heads off to his favourite fishing spot. Coaxing an unwilling worm from its tangle of squirming companions in the cool darkness of the can, he feeds its writhing body onto the hook, piercing it again and again – multiple times, until it is secure.
Every twist and wriggle the creature makes in response to the pain results in pricking and cutting against the vicious barb, thereby increasing its suffering in its agonizing journey to the water and death by injury and drowning, or as the prospective meal of an unsuspecting fish.
How useful worms are – invaluable friends of gardeners and farmers. They help to aerate the soil, break down stubborn clay, and assist nature in converting vegetable waste into useful, nutritious compost and enriched humus, to feed the flowers that brighten our lives and enrich the food that sustains them. What harm has the worm done to deserve such a fate as is imposed on it by the likes of Tom? None, I say. None.
I’m given to understand that the lowly earthworm and its grownup brother, the night crawler – prized by many a fisher, have bodies that are highly sensitive to pain. But what if worms could scream? Out loud? Would Tom be so ready to do his deed without sparing a thought for the suffering he’s causing?
Tom casts his line, and a healthy bass glides out from the seclusion of the reeds, and launches a strike at the morsel suspended live and tantalizing before his gaze. Sweet flesh, but part rips off and he doesn’t get the whole meal because the fisherman flicks the rod, snatching it to hover a short distance away. The fish isn’t beaten yet; his meal is still in sight. He moves in again. And strike – he’s got it! Searing agony floods his being, as the concealed hook firmly lodges in the roof of his mouth. An intense but short battle between the angler and the fish ensues. It is the battle for his life.
Try as he might, that bass can’t escape the hook. The barb sees to that. Eventually he’s reeled in. Tom nets him, scooping him from the water. A strong hand grips the fish behind the gills, and Mr. Bass’s glazed eyes stare into the face of his captor. Tom proceeds to extract the hook, wiggling it this way and that with long-nosed pliers. Unspeakable pain. The fish is drowning in air now that he’s out of the water. The hook point and the barb continue to lacerate his mouth.
Finally, he is free of them. The fish is then struck dead and placed in the icebox. Tom is jubilant. This is a good catch, a handsome specimen; one that didn’t get away!
But what if the worm could have screamed and the fish could have cried, pleading for mercy in language Tom could understand? Would he be so willing to enjoy nature and the peace and quiet of a day’s fishing? Is it fair? Life isn’t fair. Many things in life are unfair.
The inspirational point? Sensitization. May we live thoughtfully and humbly, aware that, in our pursuit of excitement and enjoyment of nature, and even the acquisition of food, many creatures often pay a high price.
Our redemption cost!
Heaven’s Best suffered, nailed to a cross.
Unfair, but necessary.
Peter A. Black is a freelance writer in Southwestern Ontario, and author a children's / family book, "Parables from the Pond.". A version of this article was
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