Killing Snails


“When I hear that crunch I know I’ve done it again.  I get out the car, it’s dark and I can’t see them but there’s the cracking sound and I know I crushed another snail. I walk upstairs feeling sad and guilty.  I just ended its life.”

My son said this recently while we were talking about his evening job, the fact that the nights are starting to close in even though we haven’t reached the end of August and it’s dark when he gets home.  Until he said it I hadn’t realised he felt so strongly about the right to life and his thoughts on the subject aren’t limited to snails. My health issues and treatment have not been easy for him to reconcile; he’s been forced to confront the realisation that ‘good’ people don’t necessarily get a ‘fair’ deal in life.  I suppose we all come to know this at some stage, whether it’s through the death of  those we hold dear, being abandoned by those we loved and placed our trust in or through difficulties at school, college or work.

My son’s thoughts reflect my own. I hate killing snails too.  When I was a child I never did it deliberately and if I trod on them by accident my heart sank.  I still avoid treading on them because I don’t like killing things unnecessarily and the fact that they aren’t cute doesn’t exclude them from being spared my clumsiness.   The strange thing is that I don’t ever remember telling my son to avoid stepping on snails, or that he should feel sad or guilty if he accidentally crushed one.  I do remember telling him when he was very young that all life is precious, the natural world is important and other creatures deserve as much respect as we do.

I wonder how many people in today’s world might stop to consider their impact on the life of something as small as a snail?  I’m afraid I have encountered one or two who would either ignore it or consider it an inconvenience to have crushed one.  The sad thing is that I doubt their attitudes will change and that makes my heart sink as much for them as it does for the unlucky snail.