Treadwell became so enamoured of the bears in the Alaskan wilderness that he spent years among them. He gave them nicknames and walked right up to them, speaking in what he thought was a soothing voice. He believed he understood them and that they would not attack him. He didn't have a gun or even pepper spray. Which worked for years, until he (and his girlfriend) encountered the wrong bear. Both were killed.
There is something admirable about those who think only the best of frightening and dangerous creatures. But their naivete is dangerous and often deadly.
That comes to mind when I read current news about the Mideast. As Sen. Ted Cruz said, we are now facing pure evil. Our good intentions and soothing words only mark us as prey.
Of course, that's where the analogy falls short: bears usually stay away from us. They are dangerous, but usually only when provoked. Islamic terrorists are stalking us. They are far more dangerous than wild animals.
George W. Bush was derided for his "axis of evil" speech. But every year it becomes clearer he had a profound and essential insight: we are in a struggle with an evil force.
In a way we can't even understand that. Some theologians, if memory serves, believe evil is only nothingness, a shadow of the good, thus in a sense beyond our power to understand, at least in a scientific, liberal sense. We want to like, and can't grasp those who really hate. We want to build, and can't understand those who sole purpose is to kill and destroy.
But we can understand that evil is thus beyond our power to reform or placate. It can only be destroyed.
Only when we understand that will be be able to begin the very lengthy task of resisting and then destroying that evil.
At least some Australian military men agree:
Think about that: There is no compromise possible. Michael Krause, a former senior Australian Army officer responsible for planning the coalition campaign in Afghanistan, said he agreed “absolutely” with Professor Leahy. “I have seen these people,” the retired major general said.
“I know how they think. I know how they fight. There is no compromise possible.
Right now our president, good intentions and all, has just encountered a bad bear. Unfortunately, as Treadwell's girlfriend was with him, we're along with the president.