Friday, September 9, 2016

They Were Here First

Black Bear Similar to My Bandit

When I was seventeen, our family had a vacation in a beautiful park in Waskesui, Saskatchewan. Waskesiu is a beautiful area with numerous lakes and backwoods which is essentially untouched by humans. Of course, that means that there is plenty of fish and also wildlife -- squirrels, bears, elk, moose, cougars, and wolves.That summer, we had a visit by a black bear who knew how to take the lids off trash cans. He did make quite a commotion, though, while he was doing it. I considered him to be a heroic creature -- a resourceful bandit. This bear was not welcomed by authorities. They had captured him once before and taken him out far into the bush, marked him and released him. He was now known as dangerous!  The next evening he was back, and so were the authorities. The chase wound around by our camp-site. Then a  gun was fired. It was one of the loudest sounds I had ever heard! It drew the men and boys  to see what had happened; They reported that the bear was killed. I cried for a long time.

I couldn't get over how unjust it was that he bear lost his life when we were trespassing on his territory. We were enjoying the natural habitat that bears had known as theirs for centuries before there were any camp sites developed. Why did they get a warning and then lose their lives? As an adult, I better understand that public places need to provide safety to those who are using their facilities. The campers needed to feel safe. But the fact is that bear had not harmed us, it had just disturbed our peace and made a mess.

Maybe I can use this incident to help understand life.

The indigenous people were also here for thousands of years before we arrived. By all accounts, we did not treat them with respect nor did we try to bring compassion and understanding. Rather we attempted to change their religion, culture and ways. 

If we are to live in a world that works for everyone, we need to be able to bring curiosity and respect to every person we meet. One of the things we can do is to practice the golden rule: Do unto others as I wish them to do unto me." Also we can resolve to practice the negative golden rule: "Do not do unto others which we would not want done to us."

We may wish to embrace compassion. Author Karen Armstrong has created a Charter for Compassion. In part it says:
"The principle of compassion lies at the heart of all religious, ethical and spiritual traditions, calling us always to treat all others as we ourselves wish to be treated...
 It is also necessary both in private and public life to refrain consistently and empathically from inflicting pain...
Rooted in a  principled determination to transcend selfishness, compassion can break down political, dogmatic, ideological and religious  boundaries."
It is time to listen deeply to each other and open to the spirit of Love within ourselves. Let us be united in our love.