When I was in high school…..oh….so many years ago. Our science class
went on a field trip to the beach with our science teacher. We were in
Southern California and there were plenty of beaches. However, I now
realize, and maybe it was a sign of the times, but my science teacher
had no concept of preservation let alone mercy. At the beach, he
instructed us to go forth and make discoveries. So …we did.
As a child, for years I had kept aquariums full of fish and having other
animals to care for made me more observant and patient.
There I was dabbling about in the water and seaweed at one tide pool
when something suddenly wrapped its self around my finger. It was small
and snakelike and stupid me, instead of being scared to death and
pulling back I was fascinated at the gentleness of the gesture. The
impression I got was of another being testing the ‘waters’ so to
say. I then realized it was a tentacle of a very small octopus. So there
we stood, this tiny creature and I taking the measure of other.
Then I made the mistake of calling to my teacher over who immediately
took charge of the situation and pried up the rocks of this little
being’s home and capturing it and putting it in a very large tin can.
I felt terrible, as if I had betrayed this small beastie who had
befriended me. However, this was my teacher and then it was not heard of
that a student should or could challenge a teacher. It was just not
The sad outcome for this small being was, it was displayed in classroom
aquarium for a few days until it die and was discarded just like so much
I have never gotten over that. It was my fault entirely. Why hadn’t I
just stayed quiet and let this creature alone. It was a lesson that I
learned very well. I learned that I may have empathy and understanding
to deal with “life” but I must use caution in dealing with others.
Other people may not have the information, the knowledge and the
understand to deal with things so different from themselves. It is sad
to say, they may not possess the humanity or the understand or the
concept of mercy in dealing with others more different from themselves?