I must admit to feeling more than a little skeptical when I read about the "bear sanctuary" proposal in Sunday's newspaper. The idea of reconditioning bears as to how they should behave in civilized society seemed at first somewhat wacky. Where might this idea lead? We can recondition wolves not to eat deer, dolly varden not to eat the salmon eggs, and spruce trees to grow up to become hemlocks.
Still, I found I could not so easily dismiss the ideas of sanctuary and reconditioning. I see in the proposal for a bear sanctuary some hope for us all once the oily smear from spam is cleared away. For instance, let's build a sanctuary in the spirit of the concept, a place where Israelis and Palestinians can be reconditioned to deeply listen to each other. A place where our children can be reconditioned to know that they are just OK for being who they are, that they don't have to accept the values portrayed in tobacco and alcohol advertisements. Angry people who might be stuck in that emotional track and who take themselves very seriously can be reconditioned to experience a whole range of human feelings, including the possibility of crying.
Yeah, I am in favor of dedicating the little rock dump, that mound of decomposing tailings and sludge, to the idea of a sanctuary. I hope that the city will look closely and broadly at the sanctuary proposal and find in it some grander possibilities. Let's be the first city in the world to sanctify public land for the purpose of reconditioning people and animals to be well and to live peacefully with one another.
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