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How Learning About Spiders Can Make Your World Better

If you did a Google search for a list of the most common fears people have, it’s likely you’ll find spiders somewhere at the top of every list.  What is it about spiders that makes them so fearful?   Is it the long, creepy & hairy legs; their speedy, unpredictable movement that we catch out of the corner of our eye; or maybe it’s the visual image our mind creates of a helpless insect trapped in a sticky web just waiting to be bitten, wrapped in silk, then eaten….as the spider mercilessly crawls toward its victim?  Regardless of what it is that freaks you out, many of us have an overzealous fear of these small bugs.  However, the more you learn about spiders, the more you learn to appreciate them (…even if they still are creepy to you.)

Spiders have been around for 380 million years according to evolutionists.  The point is, they’ve lived A LONG time.  They’ve developed some very unique and effective systems to help them survive.  One of their well-known systems feared by humans, is the venom that is delivered through a spider’s mouth.  Interestingly, each species of spider has developed its own set of powerful chemical compounds and creates a “venom signature” made up of dozens or hundreds of chemicals that act in very different ways. Other animals have developed similar survival techniques, such as snakes, scorpions and specific reptiles. The venom produced by all of these creatures is made to disable and kill its prey.  Venom can cause minor to excruciating pain, can make the heart stop within minutes or turn fluid blood into jelly.  It can paralyze its victim or just eat flesh like acid.  All of this can be delivered through the tiny mouth of a spider.  Have you ever thought about how these natural chemical compounds may be beneficial though? Scientists are working on ways to harvest these powerful compounds and use them to our benefit.  High blood pressure is treated regularly with a medication that has been developed from the toxin produced by a viper in South America.  One way to treat type 2 diabetes is through using a toxin produced by a North American lizard and hospitals are creating a protocols to use an anesthetic developed from the toxin of a marine snail.  Since there are 350,000 species of spiders, each with their own venom signature, these creepy bugs are being studied to see if we can use the amazing chemicals they produce to create novel types of antibiotics to kill drug resistant infections and are looking for pharmaceutical applications to treat chronic conditions as well as acute illnesses. To some people, this may sound pretty far-fetched.  But think about it, don’t you think those spiders who live out in the dirt, under rocks and in in your drain pipes have developed some pretty good mechanisms to survive in those moldy or microbe infested places?

The thing is, we aren’t spiders. We are here to think, create, share, experience, explore, discover, embrace, help and love our planet and other fellow humans. Our mouths have the power to inject or convey powerful things too.  We can deliver venom that hurts and destroys those around us or we can speak words that are therapeutic, helpful and healing.

So….think about it.  What do you use your mouth for?

Is it toxic or therapeutic?

The next time you’re at work and your employee reports on a project assigned to him and you aren’t impressed…. avoid the urge to say “that’s kindergartner’s work” or tear up his report in front of the entire team.

The next time your child or grandchild spills her bowl of sticky cereal on the floor….for the 6th time that day, take a second to think before you shout out toxic words that might condemn, belittle or hurt a delicate, impressionable child.

The next time you disagree with your spouse, take a TIME OUT before you say things that make him/her feel unimportant, used or disregarded and not listened to.  It’s interesting but very sad that often we say some of the most thoughtless and harmful things to the people we love the most.  My daughter shared a wise quote with me last year. She said “treat your friends like family and your family like friends”.  Think about it.  There’s a lot to this.

There is no doubt this is a challenge….to stop and think before we speak.  It will obviously be harder for some of us than others.  We all have our different talents and weaknesses. It is human nature to be a little selfish, to save face, to want to get the last word in and to want things done our way.  However, if you want to be happier, establish a home, a neighborhood and community of kindness, acceptance and tolerance, this type of training and treatment is vital.

Remember the old rhyme we used to chant as kids?
“Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.”

I beg to differ.  Words have the ability to hurt, break or even crush someone.

I remember when I was in 6th grade (a long time ago) I was assigned to work on a project with a girl in my class who was socially awkward and didn’t have many friends.  I was mad because I didn’t get to work on the homework assignment with “my” friends.  We were talking at lunch about what we were going to do for our project and who our partners were.  I rudely said that I couldn’t believe I was paired with this girl and immediately felt bad for the mean comment I’d just made (particularly, the tone of voice I had used).  Not a second later, I looked around to see if she was nearby and was horrified to see her just a few feet away.  She had heard every hurtful word I said.  She was a much better person than me.  Rather than retaliate with some rude comment, she just looked at me with a hurt in her eyes that I will never forget.  I tried to backpedal, but it was useless.  I couldn’t shove the words back in.

I learned a valuable lesson that day.  Words are powerful.  Words can’t be taken back….whether they are spoken, written in a “private” text or memo or plastered on social media.  Ever since that shameful action, I’ve tried very hard to think before I speak.  Life is hard enough.  I don’t ever want to contribute to making life harder for someone else.

I imagine most of us have said things that we didn’t really mean or didn’t know how harmful those words would be to someone else. So even though we aren’t perfect, TAKE TIME TO THINK before you speak.

…So what do you use your mouth for?

Is it toxic or therapeutic?

Choose wisely.

Resource information about spiders

Haley Pledger, PA
Women’s Care
Matthew Walton, DO
Austin Bills, DO
Family Medicine
Aaron Fausett, PA
Family Medicine
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