Whenever it rains heavily, I always arrive late for school.
It’s not because of what you might think; I don’t get a drive or take the bus, nor do I stay in bed longer because of how cozy humid days are or how gloomy grey days are, nor am I even particularly bothered from stepping in puddles or getting wet. Rather, I spend too much time saving worms from off the sidewalk.
Honestly, it’s kinda gross to go outside and see worms strewn everywhere, wriggling around in all their glory. What’s grosser is when they’re squished by people walking, biking, and driving. Their remains, which bake in the sun for the next few days until they shrivel, disintegrate, and eventually disappear, are so disgusting and yet so pathetic.
It seems strange that these worms commit these acts of apparent suicide, but the reason is simple: the worms crawl onto the sidewalk because the dirt is flooded and they’ll drown if they stay. This is an act of perceived self-preservation. I wonder what percentage of worms that hang out on the sidewalk die as a result of not being somewhere safe from human feet. Based on the gruesome wake left by the worms’ exodus from the soil, my immediate reaction is that they would likely drown if they stayed underground or in the drenched grass, but would almost certainly die if they remained above ground.
And so, whenever I see a worm on the sidewalk, I pick it up and put it back onto the grass. I do it even when people walking by give me funny looks or make disapproving noises, because I think it’s the right thing to do. But is it really worth my time to stop and throw each one of them back onto the grass?
Actually, this question is two-fold: Should I save them, and would they want to be saved?
The thing is, they chose to climb above ground. I should respect that, right? I should probably let them make their own mistakes. If I see their lives as inherently valuable, I should let them be the masters of their own fates. The problem is, with only 302 neurons compared to our 100 billion and eyes much less perceptive than that of humans, it’s not like worms have spectacular foresight or reasoning. That means they chose to leave the safety of the ground without the information that they would probably die by leaving. And yet, I am convinced that if they knew, they would stay on top of the grass as a compromise, or stay near the edge of the wet sidewalk, or prepare in advance to prevent this tragedy in the first place.
The dilemma is if my intervention is aiding the worm with my “superior” judgment, or if it is basically sentencing the worm to a different fate than it set out to seek.
Since I know better, is it my duty to save them? Would they want to be helped? Should it matter whether or not they want it? If I can so freely strip a worm of its free will and agency, why do I value its life to this extent?
I don’t know. Maybe I’m thinking too much; they are just worms, after all. Low intelligence beings. Just single organisms among their vast populations. Easily replaceable.
I sometimes even wonder if, when seeing a worm that has already been trampled by the people walking by, I should stamp the poor thing out and end its misery. If doing this would alleviate its suffering just the slightest bit, and help bring about a timeline resulting in the least amount of unnecessary suffering.
And yet, I pray that if I frantically throw myself in harm’s way, someone would come along to help me out. Even if I don’t see it for what it is at the time, and even if it traps me in this life of pain.
This is an introduction to the character Confidant, who has not been depicted so far. We will be releasing related scenes and content soon!
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