I am afraid of bugs — especially beetles. I realize that, for the most part, this is illogical, for beetles do not generally bite or sting. In fact, even cute, little lady bugs make me a bit nervous. I mean, a lady bug? Really? Yes. Really.
I don’t always react in near terror, like I did upon encountering the three inch long stink bug (that is an American quarter in the picture–eek). But I react nonetheless. I can try to logic my way out of this affective response, but the connection between logic and affect just isn’t that clear.
The Hidden Connections of the Disconnect
Fall 2009, in one of my first Ph.D. courses, Klaus Issler talked extensively and repeatedly about our inability to change our hearts through direct action. The heart just doesn’t work that way. In his book, Let Your Life Speak, Parker Palmer compares the soul to a wild animal: it cannot be approached directly or with bluster. Michael Polanyi writes about tacit knowledge (in The Tacit Dimension and other books) and its necessary place in our knowing and discovering.
Our heart, our soul, and our tacit knowledge are shrouded in mystery. The deep beliefs behind our every decision, the hidden hurts behind our unfortunate responses, have been forming deep within us from conception until now. Uncovering them is delicate and risky. Changing them via direct action is impossible; indirect action, though effective, is usually messy and long.
Why do beetles strike such terror?
I do not know. Maybe it was the oft told story of the Japanese Beetle that became entangled in my father’s hair. Maybe it was the giant, dead water bug that fell from my pant leg one morning as I rode my bicycle to work those many years ago. Who knows? I do know that the fear is quite real, despite its utter disconnect from the tame reality of beetles. I also know that no amount of logical argument will make the fear go away.
The heart just doesn’t work that way.