Years ago my grandfather and uncle were fishing in the Yellowstone River in Montana. Wearing overall type waders, my grandfather was able to stand in waist-high water in the center of the river, while my uncle fished from the bank. My grandfather, focused on casting his rod and keeping his balance in the fast moving water, didn’t notice that upstream from him a mama bear and her two cubs had begun to cross the river. Being lighter, the current carried the little ones downstream faster than the mama, which quickly placed my grandfather between them and their protector.
My uncle, being a wildlife specialist, yelled frantically to my grandfather to get out of the stream… he was in grave danger of being seen as a threat to the babies, and therefore of being attacked by the mother. My grandfather scrambled out and they backed away from the stream, the mama bear was ultimately reunited with her cubs, and all was well. In the retelling of this story around many a dinner table, my uncle’s sharp warning—’Never put yourself between a mother and her baby’ has stuck with me all these years.
Biologically, we’re wired to be the fierce protectors of our children, aren’t we? We comfort them, advocate for them, provide for them, defend them, look out for them, and even in a deep sleep have an ear that’s sensitive and alert to danger and need. We would hand them over barbed wire to the hands of helping strangers, hold them over our heads as we drowned for them, or jump in front of a car to save them. Who else, after all, will look out for them the way we do… in a moment of danger we act without thought and with a force akin to volcanic eruption.
If you’ve experienced it, you know the primitive, desperate, exploding power I’m talking about. And when your child is harmed or killed? Witness the rage that is channeled into organizations like Mothers Against Drunk Drivers or safety advocacy groups for specific products. It is no accident that groups devoted to discovering the truth about vaccine damage are largely a mother’s movement. As a society, we would do well to listen to the instinct of those who are most closely charged with the care and protection of our children, as it is to them that we owe the very survival of our species.