The earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it, the world, and those who live in it. (Psalm 24:1)
When I was a boy, my favorite TV show was Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom. I was awed by the many exotic, dangerous and varied animals. The show also introduced us to many different indigenous people from around the world. Even Johnny Carson loved the show and made fun of the stars. A recent Washington Post article reminds us, “Johnny would imitate Marlin, saying, ‘I’ll stay back at camp mixing drinks for the native girls while I send Jim downriver to wrestle the two-horned rhino in heat,’ Mr. Fowler once recalled.”
Jim Fowler died a couple weeks ago. It was another “end of the era” moment for me. Jim Fowler was like a superhero, who did the coolest stuff, and came to visit every week on my television. Probably the most frightening moment in Fowler’s history on the show was when an enormous anaconda swallowed Jim’s arm all the way up to his shoulder. The tribesmen ran away in panic. He coolly waited for the anaconda to tire itself out, give up, and regurgitate his arm.
What made Jim Fowler so special was his respect for the animals and the indigenous people. Remember, Wild Kingdom began in the 1960s, in the midst of the Civil Rights movement. Here was a strong, brave, brilliant, white man going to exotic places and learning from the people of color, around the world. Jim Fowler taught us to treat all of God’s creation with respect and dignity. He knew that even though things that are different can be scary, if you learn about their uniqueness’s and needs and desires, you can live in harmony with all things. It was a message that needed to be heard in the 1960s and one that needs to be shared anew in 2019.
Pray today, that we can all learn from Jim Fowler, and bravely interact with those beings – both human and animal – who are different from ourselves. Pray that we can open our hearts to include all of God’s creatures. When we do that, this world of ours can finally be transformed. Rest In Peace, Jim Fowler!