The New York Times Magazine ran an article today about the growing problems with the population growth of bears in the United States and Canada. If you have ever been camping or talked about camping with me, you probably know that the sole reason for me not wanting to go to Banff Canada is because I am deathly afraid of grizzly bears. Granted, this article was about black bears, and I may have, just in May, talked trash about how I'm not afraid of black bears. I have never run into one, but that is besides the point.
The article addresses the complicated issue of bears becoming more and more visible in suburban settings. Some people just want the bears to be gone, by any means possible. Some people fight for the rights of bears, and of course many lie in between the two sides. Here's the line that stuck with me, though, that addresses the attitude that people long held, and a possible reason for some of the current problems:
"For two centuries, as European immigrants moved west across North America, they sought to rid the landscape of any possible threat to themselves, their crops, their livestock; anything with big teeth — bears, wolves, cougars, bobcats — received a lethal round." And as much as I could talk about bears, this struck me as a profound metaphor.
I suppose that it makes sense that when a person is threatened, the most logical answer is to remove the cause of the threat. But at the same time it seems like that just places us within a nice, neat fence with everything that could potentially cause us to hurt--or even feel--at a safe distance. In some ways this sounds appealing: ultimate safety and protection. But in others it sounds more dangerous than the threats themselves. If I am destroying or ignoring everything that might be difficult--be that relationships, honesty, poverty, the list could go on--then I am ultimately remaining unchanged, then I think
is worse than the pain that I may have endured for a short while.
(Now, if you are out camping and see a bear...take this out of a hypothetical metaphor. Obviously.)