"I think that's love."

     Photo by @ svenbergerfotografie

     Photo by @svenbergerfotografie

“When I believe something that’s not true and I’m afraid, that fear is still real, whether what I’m afraid of is real or not. That fear is. And so I need to respect as a person the fear that they have even though I disagree with what they’re thinking that’s causing it." - Jeff Kelley

From the moment I saw the picture above I haven't stopped thinking about it, and for several reasons. One, it's a great photo. Two, it scares the hell out of me. And three, it captures most acutely the words of Jeannette Armstrong, "To see things from a different perspective is one of the most difficult things we have to do."

"We have to do." I love that. Not only because it's right and good and true, but because, at times, it seems damn near impossible. 

I'm so used to seeing myself standing on top the world, like a little conquerer, and singing along with Bob Dylan, "don't think twice, it's alright," because I've never know it to be any different.

I've never felt my feet leave the ground without returning, never considered that when I jump or swing or cartwheel in the soft green grass that I won't stay right where I am, on Earth. So I've never considered how terrifying my life on this earth actually is.

Until the photograph was turned upside down.

On the Podcast Invisibilia, a guest Will Cox say that the "unfortunate thing about human learning," is that "human brains are really good at learning things, and not so good at unlearning them."

And its because, Alex Spiegel explains, "of the way that our minds work. It is just much easier for a stereotype {or believed truth} to perpetuate itself than to be overturned. Because to change a concept, you need to get extremely consistent feedback that the concept is incorrect."

But often times, because of our busy lives or limited communities, we don't get any feedback at all. Leaving our truths unchallenged, and unchanged.

In our politics.

In our religions.

And in our experiences. 

Until the photograph is flipped a bear's life is challenged. 

After committing thirty years to the idea that black bears could be trusted, and after feeling like he proved this point over and over again, Jeff Kelley chose to see things from another's perspective and adjusted, for the sake of those who apposed him. So he could help them. Because in Eagle's Nest Township, a small community in Northeast Minnesota, a battle over the stay and safety of Solo, his beloved black bear and her cubs, was brewing.

Convinced that "they were seeing reality clearly, and that the other side was just projecting a false narrative," neither side was willing to concede. Because Jeff could lay down with his head Solo's, back while she was feeding, and be perfectly fine because Solo wasn’t dangerous, and every member of the Eagles Nest community knew this.

But others, visitors from out of town who stayed only for weeks at a time, were not so sure - they were scared, and they didn’t want Solo around. They saw Solo and her friendly cubs as “a public safety risk” and pushed for them to be moved.

"What happens when people cant agree on reality?" Speigel asks, "when everyone just digs in, and insists on their version of the world?"

Communities break down, relationships suffer, and an innocent bear dies. 

On the day authorities came to relocate Solo and her two cubs, citizens of Eagles Nest tried to rouse her from her winter hibernation and run her off, so she wouldn't be captured. Instead, she and her cubs climbed a tree. They were shot, placed on trucks, and brought to Northern Michigan. The cubs woke up; Solo didn't. 

The people of Eagles Nest started pointing fingers.

"Intolerance," and "fear, lead to this bear being killed," they argued, and those kind of people don't "fit with this community" they said.

All except for Alex. Because, as he explained, 

When I believe something that’s not true and I’m afraid, that fear is still real whether what I’m afraid of is real or not, that fear is. And so I need to respect, as a person, the fear that they have even though I disagree with what {they think is} causing it.

And so, out of respect for them, I adjust what I’m doing so that I can at least help them not be so afraid.

I think that’s love.

To see things from another's perspective can be one of the hardest things we are asked to do. It can also be as easy as flipping a photograph. The difficulty is doing something about it.

We don't all have to agree on reality. In fact, some would argue that it's best if we don't. But we can all agree that life and reality can often be terrifying, like upside down photographs, or monsters beneath the bed.

So, out of respect for the other person, let us help each other to not be so afraid; let us turn on the light!

Even if it's the hardest thing to do. 

Because that's love. 

And love keeps the monsters away.


For more on . . .

-N- Stuff  :  Inspiration from Podcasts :  On Living