Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Cry wolf! The old story of the shepherd boy who thought to terrorize his friends by pretending a wolf was in the vicinity is still a standard by which people judge the personality of this animal which has been a part of our lives throughout history. Even though ancient men bred wolves with wild dogs to create an efficient hunting companion in the northern world as the Ice Age retreated, and in doing so gave us a friend sometimes more valued than our own family, we have strangely preserved a unique kind of hatred for the wolf itself which has haunted us for thousands of years. If we love our dogs so much, why do we hate its nearest relative? It is not a logical thing to be sure. It must then be something else, but what?

In the dim past, when men hunted each other on a regular basis as a summer pastime, or more recently as part of empire building, they left battlefields littered with dead comrades from whom they stripped clothes and weapons to take home to bereaved families. Of course, all these human corpses became food for a myriad of scavengers which included wolves, foxes, crows, ravens, eagles and insects. In fact, these creatures got quite used to this free and easy food supply to the point where they would follow marching armies and wait for the inevitable bounty!

It has been said that soldiers in these times were less fearful of their human enemies than they were of being eaten by wolves, especially if they were not really dead but either unconscious or left behind mortally wounded. Imagine the horror of feeling oneself being torn apart by a wolf pack just before death ends it all! It is from such fearful experiences that the horror of wolves evolved.

Our ancestors gave us Little Red Riding Hood ; The Three Little Pigs and more recently, Peter and The Wolf as entertainment for children which of course was meant to perpetuate our fear of the wolf right from childhood. Exaggerated tales of wolf attacks, perhaps not without some foundation in the Old World, have proliferated our recent fiction until the wolf has become the most universally maligned wild creature in existence. Very recent research and scientific observation is slowly teaching us that we have been dead wrong about the wolf. But because it is difficult to erase opinions that have gripped us for centuries, it will take a while to see the wolf as a beautiful, necessary part of existence.

Through education, research, the arts, and a re-awakening of our sense of balance in nature, the wolf may one day soon become a source of joy and satisfaction because it will reveal even more, the beautiful harmonies that make the world such a miraculous place to live in.

Owen R. Neill, Canada


Anonymous Anonymous said...

My sentiments exactly. Too many wolves have been slaughtered here in B.C. And its nice to see Canada's Poet of the Wolf participating!

6:31 p.m. PDT  
Blogger Paintnthings said...

People are being enlightened to the plight of the wolf. More and more people are accepting wolves as a beautiful and necessary part of nature. Education is the key and your piece here is very well written. Thank you.

7:45 p.m. PDT  

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