Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor
Volume IV, Issue VII
Is the 'Peaceable Kingdom' Possible?
The 'other' weekly news magazine explores animal friendships this week. THYME explores their greater implications.
"The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them.
And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.
And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice' den.
They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.
And in that day there shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign of the people; to it shall the Gentiles seek: and his rest shall be glorious.
And it shall come to pass in that day, that the Lord shall set his hand again the second time to recover the remnant of his people, which shall be left, from Assyria, and from Egypt, and from Pathros, and from Cush, and from Elam, and from Shinar, and from Hamath, and from the islands of the sea.
And he shall set up an ensign for the nations, and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth." -- Isaiah 11:6-12
"And I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and joy in my people: and the voice of weeping shall be no more heard in her, nor the voice of crying.
There shall be no more thence an infant of days, nor an old man that hath not filled his days: for the child shall die an hundred years old; but the sinner being an hundred years old shall be accursed.
And they shall build houses, and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, and eat the fruit of them.
They shall not build, and another inhabit; they shall not plant, and another eat: for as the days of a tree are the days of my people, and mine elect shall long enjoy the work of their hands.
They shall not labour in vain, nor bring forth for trouble; for they are the seed of the blessed of the LORD, and their offspring with them.
And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear.
The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, and the lion shall eat straw like the bullock: and dust shall be the serpent's meat. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain, saith the LORD." --Isaiah 65:19-25
In 1992 a most unusual animal play date was photographed by Norbert Rosing near Churchill, Manitoba. Ice had not formed yet on Hudson Bay so the polar bears were not yet able to hunt seals on the ice. The bear had been fasting for four months when he enountered the tethered sled dog.
Surely the dog was destined to become dinner... but then the big bear invited the dog to romp! Ursus maritimus and canis familaris played together for several days before the bear wandered off to the freezing bay.
The unusual friendship was featured in a 1994 National Geographic article: Animals at Play.
The fact that animals play and enter into relationships with each other and with humans has long been observed. The observation that even 'natural enemies' can relate to one another on a friendly basis points to the very exciting possibility of restored Eden. The 'Peaceable Kingdom' of scripture is seen in fleeting glimpses.
Bears are most often observed as solitary animals, coming together only to mate and to raise cubs. This is largely necessitated by the feeding range required by adult bears. Yet given an abundant supply of salmon, the brown bears -- ursus arctos of the Kenai Penninsula in Alaska stand shoulder to shoulder by the streams. In a practice now discontinued, rangers in the Smoky Mountain National Park used to provide garbage for the bears in a sort of 'cafeteria' so visitors could watch ursus americanus feeding in large numbers.
Natural enemies raised from infants are often seen to bond with each other. Beagles raised with bunnies are the staple of cute internet photos. Also of interest is the fact that most carnivores at least suppliment their diets with fruits and vegetables. Again the bear deserves special mention here. All bears may be classified as carnivores, but the wide adaptations observed in the diets of the various ursine species supports the possibility of Peaceable Kingdom.
Many theologians see the Peaceable Kingdom as metaphorical, even as a final resolution of G-d's 'Lion' and 'Lamb' nature. Inspired writings seem to point to a future world of true wonder and reconciliation.