Thursday, July 13, 2006

Bears and Us

Most people would believe that bears should be allowed to live in peace out there in the wilderness. But if a bear attacks and kills a human, then that bear should be hunted down and killed.

The reason is a philosophy that says that the value of a human life is more than the value of a bear's life. A human has the right to kill a bear, but a bear never has the right to kill a human and must pay for it with its life. Moreover, humans have the right to take away the land and habitat of a bear, but a bear cannot fight back -- or else pay for it with its life.

Like it or not, this is how the majority of people think. There are levels of life in traditional Western thinking, and human beings are at the top level. Maybe this idea grew out of the fact that people hunted animals for food. But it has become a philosophy of disrespect and lack of concern for animal welfare on the planet.

Unfortunately, there are groups of people -- nations and religions -- that believe that people not of their nation and religion are like the bears. These other groups have a lesser human value. They should be allowed to live in peace; but if one of them kills one of us, then we have the right to kill them.

If they kill one of our soldiers, then we get to bomb a few villages and kill a few hundred of their people. If they kill another of our soldiers, we get to bomb their airports and invade another country. This is not wrong: once one of them killed one of us, they all lost their right to live. There is a single-mindedness to this philosophy that does not see the contradictions or arrogance of their assumptions.

These groups phrase their higher-rights status in different ways. Some call themselves God's chosen people or the one true religion, the only people that God really cares about, which gives them the right not to care too deeply about others. Some consider themselves the great sheriff of the world with an unlimited right to self-defence (such as attacking other nations for having weapons of mass destruction while stockpiling and even using such weapons themselves, or invading any country whose politics displease them or whose resources they want). Such groups refer to other nations as "our interests" rather than as "their country."

Some of these groups call the bears infidels, some call them Indians or natives or slaves, some call them terrorists. They all mean that the other group is somehow less human, has less right to exist or own what they have, than we do.

Israel has this philosophy. Revenge against anyone who kills an Israeli is considered a right. There is no limit to how far this revenge can go. To fail to seek revenge is to debase oneself down to the level of the bears. To them, Muslims are bears. So are Christians.

Fundamentalist Muslims have this philosophy. Infidels can be killed without impunity. In fact, militants believe that God welcomes such killing. To them, Jews are bears. So are Christians.

Moreover, neither group is willing to negotiate with bears.


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