I am fully aware that even a young bear can kill me. I am also fully aware that humans have lived comfortably side by side with bears and other wild animals for tens of thousands of years. Nature is not scary. It is not a den of fright and horrors. For almost all of human existence, it has been home, and the wild animals have been our neighbors.
Right now worldwide, more than 500,000 people die each year in road accidents. Two-thirds of these deaths involve pedestrians, of whom one-third are children. Just in the United States about 46,000 people die per year because of auto collisions. About 30,000 Americans die each year from respiratory illness stemming from auto-related airborne toxins. Yet I am not afraid of cars. Perhaps I should be. One hundred thousand Americans die every year from toxins and other workplace hazards. Around the world, two million people per year are killed through direct violence by other people. Almost five million people die each year from smoking. And how many people do bears kill? About one every other year in all of North America.
We are afraid of the wrong things.