I admit to feeling just awful all week. I experienced both disgust and mourning during the 6 day New Jersey Fish and Game Commission’s sanctioned hunt of New Jersey’s beautiful and peaceful bears. It finally ended Saturday December 10th.
Prior to last year’s hunt, I attended five protests and faxed Governor Christie every single day. He refused to cancel it. Some people say it’s futile to protest, but I disagree.
This year I brought my nephew Anthony, age 13 to the protest. It was his first protest. He has friends who hunt. I am glad he was willing to show up to learn how to express his right to free speech.
As our car approached the town, we saw men in orange vests on the side of the road preparing to enter the forest. Anthony pointed them out and said, ‘You can tell they are hunters because they wear camouflage with orange over it, even a bear would see it.”
We arrived at the protest and we took our places across the street from the bear check-in station, which had at least a dozen men in police uniform standing around. Anthony could see for himself the respectful approach of the protesters as compared to the hunting crowd, who shouted insults at us like “Kill all the bears, kill them all!” as we stood holding our signs. Anthony asked, “Aren’t the police here to protect us, too?” “Yes.” I said ruefully, even though it didn’t seem like it.
At one point a red jeep pulled into the check-in station and then pulled out, I saw a small dead bear lying on the vehicle’s rear platform, with a loose blue tarp over it. I felt a revulsion and sadness. Anthony saw it too. He said nothing.
I began a conversation with others around me, who were holding signs. One woman stated that her cat alerted her to a bear that was on her porch where she had
left some unprotected bird seed. She saw it pull the bag of seed out of a milk can. She waved it off. It turned to leave and she noticed it was drooling. She said, “I felt so bad, he was so hungry. But I felt so happy to have him around. No one in our neighborhood wants to harm the bears.” “They are just big vegetarians.” I said. She nodded and smiled.
The whole world cares about the bears, and the hunters in New Jersey embarassed us. Even natural beauty Brigitte Bardot, heard about it in France. She was quoted in the New York Post, “What can we think about the state of New Jersey, where 592 bears are condemned to death?” Bardot wrote personally to our heartless Governor, Chris Christie.
In buddhist terms, we identify this act of voracious desire by hunters, a desire so strong that it causes them to kill the very object they crave, as living in the world of hunger. It is an exhausting way to live. I am confident that some day people will become enlightened and stop behaving this way. I will do what I can by being as aware of my own hunger as much as possible. Take care.