One day, in Southern Mountains of the Alaska Peninsula a Bear lay on his back shielding his eyes from the sun. He enjoyed this particular spot for it was secluded, peaceful and had a delightful mound of springy fresh green grass which he lay upon. As he lay, he began to ponder about the world in which he lived in and enjoyed the fact that he was the ‘top dog’ or ‘top bear’ of the animal kingdom that surrounded him. He never thought of himself better than the other animals, however he was their leader and all good leaders need to know who they are and where they stand. This was particularly important in the current Spring Season. The two legged human creatures were once again encroaching onto the Southern mountain regions in search of fun, food and superiority. This usually involved the loss of a life of one or more of the animals that The Bear was leader over. The Bears job as leader naturally, was to protect his fellow family and friends. However, he was getting a little old and he felt like he was losing his strength to win each battle. Nonetheless he refused to continue thinking down that pathway and instead started to notice his rumbling belly. It had been a while since he last ate and his favourite morning meal was fresh salmon from the riverbed not too far away.
The Bear got up from his dusty mound of dirt and headed towards the riverbed. As he approached the riverbed he then decided he would like to sit upon his favourite rock where conveniently for him, was also a grand spot for fishing! There did not seem to be any salmon hopping out of the riverbed but he decided to sit on his favourite rock.
He continued to think upon his environment and steered his attention towards the sun that started to shine down through the treetops where sun rays beamed off the not so distant riverbed. As he sat he noticed something he thought to be unfamiliar hiding amongst the trees across from where he sat. The Bear then noticed a young male human appear into the open, only to be tugged rapidly back behind the trees by an adult human. Next a loud gunfire was shot toward The Bear but it missed him as it bounced off the rock he sat upon and into the riverbed. There was panic everywhere from all animals both big and small, of the air, the ground and of water. The Bear stood upon his hind legs and let out a long loud warning call, he turned and then ran on all fours in the direction that he had just come. He ran past his springy mound where he was not so long ago pondering over his rumbling belly which had since been forgotten as the adrenaline had kicked in. The Bear run and continued calling out of warning voicing to all the animals, even those he did not know. Soon, all of the animals from the air were flapping and flying and the animals from the ground shook the earth as they ran. They were headed to the safety of the mountain tops where time could be brought before the humans could build a bridge across the riverbed and came with their guns, traps and snares.
That night as all the animals were resting upon a remote spot, The Bear thought through his next steps to keep everyone safe. He had done this before many times nonetheless it would be a greater challenge due to the increased numbers of humans with guns. His mind suddenly remembered the young boy peeping out from behind the tree line back at the river. He did not seem to be a threat his curiosity for seeing such an incredible beast seemed to glaze his face rather than the hardened expression upon the older man whom The Bear thought to be the Father and head hunter. The Bear’s belly began to grumble once more and he decided to have a chomp of some nearby grasses; that would have to suffice for now.
Morning soon came and all was calm and peaceful. The sun arose once more and what a glorious morning The Bear thought. Each creature both in heights and depths started to either awaken or go into burrows for some rest. The Bear needed to come up with a plan. If the humans were to build a bridge across the river, it would not take them long. There were so many of them. The Bear did not falter because he was steadfast, strong and although he did not like to admit to it; much courage. It was much more the case of going about his ‘daily duties’ that enabled such learnt traits and natural attributes. All the animals and creatures below him thought him to be their leader, encourager and protector with continual steadfastness, strength and courage. All admired The Bear and they trusted him; apart from the salmon who would rather stay out of his way before he caught them for his dinner!
As the morning continued the animals were quietly munching when all of a sudden there was a rustle from bushes nearby which instantly put everyone on high alert. However, after a slight pause they all came to the conclusion that it was just a gust of wind. The Bear decided to investigate further whilst the rest of the group rested and went about a somewhat usual routine. The Bear slowly approached the bushes and began to walk through them. He was surprised at what he saw next, another creature stood right in front of him, it was the human boy.
The Bear flattened his ears in disapproval and slapped the ground before him an attempt to shoo the boy off his territory. The boy did make small steps back but, he was not afraid, just merely bemused by the The Bears behaviour towards him. The boy did not see himself as a threat. The Bear stood motionless and the young boy started to make slow and steady steps forwards. His childhood portrayed the opposite of this moment. He was not armed with a gun to his side but just a fascination in mind to communicate and observe The Bear. He wished to learn more about The Bear and his breed and the animals he watched over. “David”, a voiced called out from the distance in a harsh tone “Get away from that beast; he is too valuable to me”. The Bear was becoming more agitated to the appearance of David’s Father. He started to thrash the ground with ears back and started to rise to his feet. David was pushed aside by his Father and fell upon the nearby rocks. He stood back up just in time to prevent his Father from pulling the trigger on his gun. “Father”, he cried out. “Can you not see the beauty in what is alive and not what is dead for once in this lifetime? He was just doing what he does best and that is to protect his group from harm. Anyway, if we kill him now, who will stand and be the leader for all the different animals which inhabit this area. We have to protect this generation now in order for future generations to grow in number and strength. For generations such as me, to do good and not bad, to do what is best for the many and not the few. If we work with them and not against them, then we can find peace and learn from them what we cannot learn necessarily from ourselves. These things being to love, to care, to aspire and inspire our generations that hunting for no other purpose but to mount a ‘prize’ upon a wall when life is so much more important”. The Father started to lower his gun as he thought upon the wise and encouraging words of his son. He began gazing upon The Bear whom started to move slowly back down onto all fours. As the Father stood motionless so did The Bear. “It is time for a change, you are right son”, the father humbly agreed. The Bear turned around and walked away from the humans because he knew himself and his group were safe. That there was going to be a decline in humans hunting for them and the Father and Son actioned the same once The Bear had disappeared.
That night a change of heart in the Father led to the rest of the human hunters a choice as to whether they also agreed with David and his Father. Do they continue down the familiar path which led towards destruction and meaningless sport, as some perceive? Or do they tread a new path for themselves and the generations to come? For what they had feared to be goliath at first seemed to amount to nothing that was to be feared of at all. The Bear was never a threat to them as such but became a threat over generations due to the learnt behaviours the human hunters learnt when they encroached upon his land. It was a false way to protect the human population because the giants were in fact themselves. They did not at first spend time to know what was dangerous about The Bear. Yes he was almost four or even five times the size of them but when they took the time to not react with fighting, they saw beauty and leadership underneath. Sometimes there are giants that need to be knocked down but this is also a process of learning to discern and acting upon it just like the use of guns and prizes. The two not mix and are polar opposites. To discern what are threats and what are not threats is spoken through wise words, just like David spoke over his Father.
Pause for Thought
The question remains to be said, if you were faced with a ‘learnt’ giant like The Bear was to the humans, how would you react? Would you change your perspective? Would you be brave and look fear in the face? Even if the giant was in fact just a mouse in correct stance and distance from the fire to cause a giant shadow. If you do have giants are they friend or foe? Step up, step out, step in, it is your decision but be wise in your choice and talk it through with someone you trust. If it is not a threat go tell all you know, if it is a threat do the same and together fight down whatever the giant.
By Beth Hayes