Taos, New Mexico

“I’m afraid of them. I try to let them be. When I lived in Minneapolis, I would leave rice on the floor for the mice. Then one day, I stayed home sick and discovered that in the daytime hundreds of mice appeared. I freaked out but then I got a cat. In Taos, we tried to trap mice live. But that didn’t work so now I kill them and take them to the mesa and say a prayer for them.”

Healthcare worker
Atlanta, Georgia
“At home, I trap all live rodents and transplant them to more suitable living environments. But I fully support the use of insecticides and pesticides to keep hospitals, hospices, and clinics creature-free. ”

Taiwanese nun
New York, New York
“Recently, a Thai monk gave a talk and a layman asked about this. The monk said, ‘In daily life we have to deal with this. I use chemicals. Being a Buddhist, you have to be rational.’ You can create more problems by not dealing with them. If you use chemicals, don’t have bad emotions in mind. Don’t hate them. Try to abstain from the idea of killing. I try to keep my kitchen clean and I use Combat. We are part of society and have to think of our neighbors.”







Courtesy of Paul Boyer.

Teacher and real estate agent
Los Angeles, California

“I regard them as equal in the realm of sentient beings. They have their rightful spot in the animal realm.”





Poet and editor of Copper Canyon Press Port
Townsend, Washington

“Kafka was a cockroach.”






New York, New York

“I flush cockroaches down the toilet—that way I don’t kill them. They die—not much different, maybe, but you have to think about hygiene. They spread disease. ”

Los Angeles, California
“I had a pet cockroach named Howard in Florida who lived in my trash compactor. We had many chats. He often came out at night while I was watching TV. But then one night I found him on my pillow and that was that. I took him right to the toilet. Goodbye Howard.






Pet store clerk
Fort Worth, Texas

“I love rats. I have seven blue-hooded pet rats. I used to use Raid all the time, but I can’t anymore because I’ve taken Tibetan Buddhist vows not to harm any living creature. Except I buy flea collars for my cat because I figure the fleas harm the cat. In the pet store, I don’t feed the live mice to the snakes, but I don’t have trouble with the people who do because the snakes have to eat too. If you don’t feed them, they suffer, but it’s a Catch-22—animals can’t be vegetarians like we can.”

Auto mechanic
Sioux Falls, South Dakota
“It’s all circumstantial. You have to look at the entire food chain within the chain of existence. I’m not going to protect insects at the expense of life-nourishing crops or let my dog die of worms. But I don’t eat animals and don’t kill them without assessing whether it’s beneficial to others or not.”

School teacher
Cour d’Lane, Idaho
“Rats scare me. I do what I can not to provide an environment for them. I don’t grow ivy. I kind of like cockroaches. Fully half of the species on the planet are insects. They’re too successful for us not to like them. I feel humble in the face of that.”






Northridge, California

“They are part of my own existence, these roaches. Either they stay in business or I do.”

Courtesy of Michael Katz.







Poet and translator
Mill Valley, California

“I am very grateful that I don’t have any of those creatures in my life right now. My preference is for keeping them away rather than killing them, especially since I’m a vegetarian. But those times that I do kill insects, I do it saying ‘Be reborn a Buddha!'”

Administrative assistant
Brooklyn, New York
“I live in an extremely roach-infested apartment, but I’ve been training myself for the last ten years not to kill insects. Because I don’t use chemicals, it’s getting out of control. It’s shocking to give them space. As for mice, I used to let them eat the rice off my shrine. One mouse would crunch rice even when I was practicing. Then he started to wake me up at night. Now I’ve switched to white sand instead.”


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