You Can’t Spank a Fish – Or Why God Gave Us Free Will

Hand of God

picture via: Daily Meditations with Fr. Alfonse

I woke up early because of some annoying racket and did something stupid so I’ve decided to wax philosophical to make up for it. I determined that our cat was batting at our door demanding that we get up and feed him, water him, stroke his royal fur, or whatever his highness’s desire happens to be.

We have, by the way, the noisiest cat ever to roam the earth. Living with a nervous Rottweiler would be more peaceful.  I burst out the door and swatted at him with my house slipper determined to have some quiet. He ran away to hide and that’s when I realized that he wasn’t making the noise.

Feeling a little guilty, I crawled under the coffee table to apologize to the cat and not knowing what else to do I staggered into the kitchen to make coffee. Waiting for it to brew I looked out the kitchen window and saw 8 to 10 guys walking around in the trees. Closer inspection revealed that they were walking around on the roof of the house across the alley replacing the entire roof. What an unholy racket. If we ever have our roof redone I’m leaving town for the duration.

Drinking coffee my I started thinking about the people who are in the “positive reinforcement only, never yell, scold or punish” theory of raising children, pets, or dealing with adult humans.  It’s a good theory but doesn’t always work in the wild. If you see the your child or pet has toddled into the street do you yell at them to get their butt out of the street this very minute or run in the house to find a treat to lure them out of the street? I tend to be in the yell first and cuddle later camp. Maybe I was Genghis Khan in another life, who knows?

Then I thought back to the 50 gallon fish tank I had years ago. It was supposed to be a community tank where all the little fishes love each other and get along. You have to do a lot of research to figure out which fish get along in community tanks without eating their neighbor’s children or biting their fins off. Some fish like to hang at the top of the tank and others prefer to hang out on the bottom, some in the middle, etc.

It worked out fine until I made the mistake of putting an angel fish in the tank. This damn fish was pretty, but what a bully. He constantly roamed the tank chasing the other fish, loved to nip the fins of the fantail guppies and just in general causing a ruckus in the formerly peaceful community. I asked some experts and was told that I may need to isolate him from the community tank. So now I’m supposed to put a fish in jail?

One day I got exasperated and stuck my hand in the tank and touched the angel fish with my finger and chased him all around the tank wiggling my fingers. He stopped terrorizing the other fish. That seemed to work for about a week and then he started up the bully tactics again so I chased him around the tank with my hand again. He stopped again. About a week later I came in one morning and he was on the floor dead. He jumped out of the tank and committed fishy suicide.

I was horrified and heartbroken. What kind of fiend drives a fish crazy? One like me, evidently.  I started the whole thing by trying to force the fish to live in a community tank after being warned he was a predator. I thought, in my omnipotence, that I could make it work.  Later that week I was having drinks on my balcony with a friend and told her the sad tale. She burst out laughing and spit my fine boxed wine all over the patio furniture. I asked her what was so damned funny. She finally managed to gasp between gales of laughter, “only you would try to spank a fish!”  I beg your pardon.

Well she kept laughing and after thinking about it I started wondering what would happen if the giant hand of God came down and tried to stop with me from doing what I wanted to do. Hey, wait a minute, I’ve read about that in the bible. Look what happened when God tries to force his humans into behaving like humans. All those floods, plaques, rivers of blood, lightning bolts, pillars of fire; people freaked the hell out, that’s what happens. And the resulting forced change is always temporary.  It’s no wonder he threw up his hands and declared that we have free will.

6 responses

  1. “Spanking the fish” sounds suggestively euphemistic.

    1. hehe, come to think of it, it does a little 🙂

    1. Glad you did, thanks for stopping by, Ingrid.

    1. Always a pleasure to amuse you, Miss Pinky. 🙂

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