Today, I welcomed a new class of International students at Sci-Arc, an architecture school where I teach ESL in the summer. As an icebreaker, I had them ask each other a series of questions including a gem I stole from my own writing teacher:
“If faced with your potential end, would you rather confront a bear or a shark?”
These answers reveal how deeply weird our relationship to other creatures can be. Students who chose death by bear over shark gave these reasons:
1. “The bear is cuter.”
2. “The bear is more like a person.”
3. “Getting killed by a shark is all salty and it hurts.”
A few people had enough confidence in themselves as swimmers to believe:
1. “I might be able to swim faster than a shark.”
Others reasoned that death by shark would be quicker and more merciful than being scalped by a bear:
2. “The shark will just bite my head off and it will be over.”
To make sure the conversation didn’t get too sensational, I informed that students that human beings kill about 100 million sharks a year and sharks kill, oh I don’t know…a half dozen people or something.
I wish I had studied anthrozoology and could compile data like this for a living.
After class, I did get five friends to sign my slowly evolving Shark Defenders petition.