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Respect For Other Creatures Is Absent in Central Oregon 

Doug "Hayduke" Peacock once said to me, "We're not going to make it simply because that which evolves does not persist without the conditions of it's creation." I was reminded of this while on a dog walk in Shevlin Park where I was confronted by several dozen screeching fourth graders from High Lakes Elementary School. One of the boys was carrying a bucket and yelling, "Dude! He's flopping around!"

There in the bucket was a small fish, fighting for its life. I questioned one of the adults and was flippantly told that the fish had swallowed a hook and would be dissected. After seeing the look on my face, the young man blew me off with a, "It's just a school project, I wouldn't be too concerned about it."

In addition to parents and teachers, there were government agents from Fish & Wildlife present, supposedly to legitimize the horror with science. There on the table, in a sea of bright orange, dying roe, lay the fish the children had caught. With girls screaming as the fish's eye was scooped out of her socket, one of the teachers offered a jaw-dropping remark in defense, "These children are the future."

Indeed. Blind white kids led by their blind white elders. The lesson was that killing is just; that humans of any age are entitled to rob other beings of life out of nothing more than curiosity; that nature is our playground to do with as we wish. Is this the best we can do?

In that mythical playground, government agents murdered a cougar during the same week - not because of any confrontation, but merely for existing. No public input, no example taken from California where cougars and people exist peacefully together. No, instead of letting the cougars fill a niche, these arrogant, trigger-happy yeehas... I digress.

In light of our good fortune to live in a place where a cougar might exist, how valuable would it have been for those children in Shevlin Park to have learned how to be quiet, to listen, to smell, to stay together, to watch and track, to tread lightly, to feel the world around them as it is, without interference or destruction. Respect for the sanctity of all life. Intrinsic value. They might have learned the thrilling lesson of coexistence - our only chance of survival.

But any hope of living with cougars was surely dashed by Michelle Bazemore, exactly the kind of pathetic urbanite who cannot fathom a life lived with domestic dogs on a trail, let alone wild animals. After all, the forests must be safe for the Oh Help Me God... "minis"!

- Vanessa Schulz, Bend

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