Rev. Gary Richmond wrote a book titled, "A View From the Zoo.” He wasn’t writing about college; he was telling of the couple of years he worked with animals at the L.A. Zoo. He shares stories of animals and makes adaptations to human life. Some of the stories are parables.
One story is about bandit, an 18 month old raccoon pet of a neighbor of Gary's. The animal was irresistible. It followed its owner everywhere and had some very appealing mannerisms. It grew to 25 pounds and seemed to be the best companion anyone could expect.
Gary mentioned to the zoo veterinarian about the unique relationship and asked why don’t more people keep raccoons as pets. The vet’s answer greatly surprised him: "They undergo a glandular change at about 24 months. After that, they become unpredictable, independent, and often attack their owners."
"Are there any exceptions?" Gary inquired.
"None that I know of," was the reply.
"Then Julie is likely to be bitten?"
"Any time now, I should think," the doctor added with conviction.
Gary knew that a thirty pound raccoon can be equal to a one hundred pound dog in a scrap, and felt obligated to warn his neighbor regarding her safety. He explained to her that she was in danger. Her response was more emotional than rational: "It will be different for me...Bandit is different." And she smiled and added, "Bandit wouldn’t hurt me. He just wouldn’t."
Three months later Julie, the neighbor, underwent plastic surgery for facial lacerations sustained when her adult raccoon attacked her for no apparent reason. The raccoon was released into the wild.
Gary Richmond goes on to point out a variety of individuals who have said something much like Julie, "This won’t hurt me. It will be different for me." You know the examples: People experimenting with drugs; a pregnant girl abandoned by her "lover;" a woman leaving her husband believing her kids won’t suffer, as others have; and a college student who says a few drinks don’t slow him down, just before he crashes his car and kills himself and three friends. The list could go on and on.
Perhaps we should do as Gary Richmond advises us: "Now, repeat out loud the following phrase, ’Maybe it won’t be different for me.'" This could lead to us recognizing our need to correct a situation that is likely to lead to our devastation, depression, or destruction. If you are engaging in any behavior that has risks which you have denied so far, please take a moment to reflect on what you are doing and correct your actions.
"Can a man scoop fire into his lap without his clothes being burned?" (Proverbs 6:27).