American Psyche

Another installment in George Saunders' exploration of Americana for the Guardian. This one concerns bears, the feral kind:

A recent headline indicates a number of disturbing American trends: Father Kills Bear Charging At Son With Log.

First of all, who's giving these animals logs? There's nothing in the world a respectable bear needs with a log. If that bear has a log, he has it for one reason: to kill somebody...

Oh, wait, hang on. I just went back and read the article. Turns out the father used the log, to kill the bear...

What bothers me about that bear story is this American tendency to step in and do everything for our kids. It would have been better if the father had just handed the kid the log, and said, "Son, throw this, hard, at that bear. Or you're dead." That way, the kid learns something. I'm sure we've all heard the biblical proverb, "If you teach me to fish, I fish for ever; if you kill my fish with your log, next time I'm hungry, I'm just going to come walking up to you with a log and a live fish."