Black bears, reptiles, and angels

By Marguerite Jill Dye

I’d originally planned to write “Where are my bears?” because I couldn’t understand why the blackberries I left on the bushes for baby, mama, and daddy bear were still there. Then my friend and neighbor Kay said, “Early hunting season.”
I panicked. “Not our bears,” I whispered, horrified, having heard a gunshot now and then and three in succession one day. I pray they are safe hiding somewhere and finding enough food to fatten up before hibernation, but I must say that it seems quite cruel that hunting begins before they can eat the blackberries that finally ripened!
Then the news continued to worsen, as amazing as that may seem, and my column took a new turn. I thought it might be helpful to share something our Sarasota, Fla. minister and friend, Rev. Lisa Johnson, taught us about human behavior and the oldest, most primitive part of our brains.
“When we react to a comment or action with our reptilian coping brain,” Lisa Johnson explained, “we lash out automatically without thought. That’s when we get in trouble!”
“Coping Skills for Kids, Brain Works Project” ( teaches children to use their higher thinking skills (neocortex brain) rather than react from the reptilian coping brain that we share with reptiles and animals.
According to, the reptilian coping brain is used for:
Instinctive survival (how we act if threatened or injured), greed, competitiveness
Fight or flight
Aggression with threats, bullying, or laughing at another’s pain to prove we’re stronger; power and a need to control
Anger displayed through verbal outburst or action in preparation for battle
Fear of actual or perceived threat of lack, loss, injury, or death; anxiety
Tribalism and territorialism to strengthen social, national, religious, and political identity (also exhibited in gangs and sports teams), and can lead to the exclusion and criticism of those who are different or outside our group
Reproductive instinct to find mates like ourselves and produce offspring that duplicate ourselves
Revenge which can turn to hatred and escalate into violent attacks against individuals, entire groups of people, or countries; after battle, conquering lizard becomes tyrannical dictator
Then I discovered the frightening field of neuro-marketing and SalesBrain, which recommends “perfecting the art of reptilian communication” to increase sales and hook customers on a product or brand. Marketing is most effective when a simple image and message grab the attention of the selfish, self-centered reptilian brain that speaks to the consumer’s pain and survival and exploits the optic nerve’s direct connection to the reptilian brain.
Such techniques can be used for good, but also to negatively manipulate the unwary. With such low-level messages of fearmongering and hatred, I find this especially relevant in these harrowing times. It offers us a key to better understand humanity and our current choices.
We could all use an angel on our shoulder, so I asked for a message and these words came:
We are by your sides guiding you to your good. We love and protect you, happy to serve. But for us to help it must be your will. Just say the word and we’ll step in. Rise above, in kindness and grace, lower realms that undermine the goodness on the earth today. Invisible forces are now at play, vying for loyalty, causing decay. Align yourselves with the pure of heart and focus on positive deed and thought. Express compassion. Transform grief. Reach out from your heart generously. Share a smile, bless others with joy, and help them through these difficult days. Be aware that a lack of respect steals from another’s humanity. Treat them well and make them whole. By acting with love you’ll recuperate. Imagine the good that you wish to create.
Marguerite Jill Dye is a third generation author, poet, and artist who lives half year with her husband Duane in the Killington Dream Lodge her dad and family built beginning in 1958. Jill hopes to share stories that lift our spirits in “Mountain Meditation” and welcomes comments and queries.

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