by Walter Brasch
Maintenance workers at the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, Pa., airport shot and killed a bear and her three cubs.
The bears had crawled under a perimeter fence and were just lying around, several hundred yards from a runway. The airport director claimed the bears might have posed a risk to flights. The mother bear weighed less than most pro football linemen. While the airport officials were worrying about what a bear and her cubs might do, they probably should have been worrying why that fence wasn’t secure. If bears could crawl under it, couldn’t drunks or terrorists also get into unauthorized areas of the airport?
Earlier this year, the airport workers killed a bear who had gone onto a parking lot and climbed away from humans. The airport director also claimed the bear might have hurt someone. He claimed the reason the bears were not tranquilized was because his maintenance workers weren’t trained to tranquilize bears. He claimed the Game Commission possibly could not have gotten to the site fast enough to assist.
The airport director also said it wasn’t the policy to publicize the killings, apparently in an attempt to keep the public ignorant of what the airport does to animals.
A week later, about 30 miles away, near Catawissa, Pa., a Game Commission officer came onto private property and killed a baby raccoon that had posed no threat to anyone.
The family had rescued the raccoon after her mother was killed by a car. The family bottle-fed the raccoon. They made a small hutch for the raccoon who often went into the woods. The family says they planned to release the animal when it was strong enough, according to reporter Julye Wemple.
It didn’t matter to the Game Commission officer. Dixie had to be killed, he said. The animal might have rabies, he said. He refused to quarantine it. He refused to allow it to run back into the woods. He refused to allow the family to apply for a permit to keep the raccoon-the family didn’t realize they had to go through a paper jungle in order to do a humane act. At first, he even refused to take the animal away from the house to kill it. It was a final, desperate plea by the parents who didn’t want their four-year-old to see the murder.
After the officer fired two shots into Dixie-the first didn’t kill her-he then cited the family for unlawful acts concerning the taking of furbearers. Maybe, the Game Commission officer thought his badge allowed him to kill rather than protect animals.
The Game Commission officer’s inhumanity now allows every person to kill every animal on sight-just because it might have rabies. Maybe, it will attack us. Or, maybe, it’s just an annoyance.
Fear is a dominant trait in our society.
We buy .357 Magnums so we can blow away robbers-or in fear of neighbors who take short-cuts through our back yards at night. Or to murder people whose views are different from ours. Three recent high-profile cases revealed Whites killing Blacks because they might be dangerous.
We fear ideas that aren’t what we believe, so we continue to ban books and whine about the National Endowment for the Arts, forgetting that our nation was founded upon a libertarian principle that all views should be heard.
In a nation that seems to value appearance over intellect, a nation where there are no ugly anchors on TV, we are so afraid of not looking at least as well as anyone else that we spend billions for makeup to cover blemishes; we go to spas, gyms, and plastic surgeons to “tone up our flab” so no one scorns us for being fat. Augmentations to fill out. Liposuctions to reduce. Preparation H to shrink our wrinkles.
We don’t hire the handicapped, the short, the tall, the fat, the skinny because they’re “different.” We fear and condemn gays, lesbians, and same-sex marriage, trying to justify our contempt and our fear as a voice from God. Some among us are anti-Semitic and racist, irrationally justifying their own pathetic existence.
While proclaiming our individuality, we try our best to look, act, and think like everyone else, ‘lest someone label us “different” or, worse, “radical.” We are so afraid of not being “cool” that we allow advertising to dictate what we wear, what we eat and drink, and even what we drive. We go to college because we’re afraid we won’t get a good job, and then spend 40 years on that job afraid to do anything different or creative, afraid to speak out for fear of displeasing someone who might discipline or fire us. We are so afraid that someone else will get something more than we have, so instead of fighting to get better wages and working conditions, we attack unions and public school teachers.
We are afraid of the homeless because they look different, sometimes smell of booze, and sometimes even want to talk with us, to tell us about their lives and how they became homeless. We don’t want to hear that chatter. We have so many more important things to do-like go to our jobs so we can afford that nice mortgaged house and leased car.
We condemn those who receive public assistance, whether disabled, elderly, or just a single unwed mother who made a mistake. We fear that every dollar they receive is one dollar less that we can spend on our own necessities and luxuries.
We are afraid of children who escape Honduras, cross into Mexico, and then into the U.S. to seek asylum. They might be terrorists. They might take our welfare. They might want our jobs. For some on the far-right lunatic fringe, the solution is to kill those who cross our borders illegally. Why not just nuke Honduras and solve the problem entirely?
We fear and condemn Arabs and Muslims, and plan to destroy their countries, because some of them are terrorists, not acknowledging that every ethnicity and religion has its own terrorists. For some, the solution is to launch pre-emptive strikes against-well, everything-just because something might happen.
That which we don’t understand-or want to understand-we attack, leaving us condemned to an isolation of ignorance.
Those who believe they are Christians often ask, “What would Jesus do?”
Would Jesus want us to buy guns to kill people and animals? Would Jesus want us to ban books and ideas we don’t agree with? Would Jesus want us to concentrate upon appearance? Would Jesus want us to believe the half-truths of politics and corporate advertising? Would Jesus condone racism, sexism, Anti-Semitism, ageism, and homophobia? Would Jesus want us to condemn immigrants, children who are seeking asylum, and those who are the weakest and poorest of our society. Would Jesus want us to condemn those who live on communes or join unions? Would Jesus deliberately kill a mother bear and her cubs who didn’t threaten anyone? Would Jesus kill a baby raccoon who posed no threat? Would Jesus want us to live a life of fear?
The answer is obvious.
[Dr. Brasch’s current book is Fracking Pennsylvania, an overall look at the effects of fracking upon health, agriculture, and the environment.]