Country means the presence of critters: deer, turkeys, rabbits, and raccoons. But bears? Every year our local papers have an article or two about bears being sighted in our heavily populated but relatively rural county.
The Peterborough office of the Ministry of Natural Resources says that we have black bears, not only in the wilderness areas of the north but right down to the shore of Lake Ontario. A shoreline with a string of cities and towns from Hamilton through Toronto to Cobourg, Belleville and Kingston? Ontario evidently has over 75,000 black bears who can weigh from 100 to 600 pounds.
We are urged to put garbage in bear-proof containers, take in all bird feeders, and make sure our barbecue is clean. If we face a bear we should not run away but make lots of noise, raise our arms to look big, and slowly back away. Bears are probably as afraid of us as we are of them. Never run or climb a tree.
Scary? Something to fear? In Canada, I believe there is only one death yearly by bear—and that by a grizzly. We have 9.2 vehicle fatalities per 100,000 population. We have 57 lightning deaths a year, 590 drownings, and 1200 fatalities from workplace accidents.
Fear of bears should be very far down on our list of phobias. Society sweeps a host of other dangers under the carpet which we should really fear. To use Dr. Craig Carter’s term, our culture has become a culture of death. We’ve seen the death of absolute moral standards. Relativism has murdered respect for absolute truth. Marriage is on life support. Hyper-feminism has sought to redefine life to allow for the death by abortion of about 100,000 unborn children per year in Canada. Agitation for euthanasia is picking up steam.
A culture of death! We need not fear bears. We need rather to fear that which destroys our ability to cherish life and fear God. The fear of God breeds reverence for life and clarity of vision—the sense of awe at God’s beauty that moves us to live clean, constructive, peaceful, gentle lives. How desperately we need to spread the message of Jesus, the only antidote for our culture of death. “I am come that they might have life and that they might have it more abundantly”(John 10:10).