Once there was a black bear who had the best territory in the forest, and the best ideas too. Each day he would sit in a clearing under a giant redwood tree and the other black bears would come and listen to him. He enjoyed their company and loved teaching them what he knew.
After some time the black bear noticed that the other bears didn’t understand everything he said. This upset the bear and he got angry. He shouted to make them understand. Some bears stopped coming as they didn’t like being shouted at.
The black bear heard a voice. It was the giant redwood tree asking why he shouted.
“To make them hear,” said the black bear.
The next day the other bears listened even more carefully. They really wanted to understand. The black bear explained his ideas again and again and when they still didn’t understand he told them they were stupid. Some more bears stopped coming as they didn’t like being called stupid.
The black bear heard a voice. It was the giant redwood tree asking why he called the other bears stupid.
“To make them realise they don’t understand,” said the black bear.
The black bear was very frustrated. He looked at remaining bears and repeated his ideas quickly ten times in a row. He was sure if he said it often enough then they would understand. The black bear was delighted when one of the bears said he did understand, but then the bear said he didn’t agree. This made the black bear so angry that he grabbed a clod of earth and threw it at the bear.
The other bears said they weren’t sure what they believed. The black bear threw clods of earth at them as well.
The black bear heard a voice. It was the giant redwood tree asking why he threw things at the other bears.
“Because they don’t listen,” said the black bear.
All the bears of the forest were worried about the black bear. They knew he was wise and had good ideas but sometimes they had other ideas. Each day they would come to the clearing but the black bear would shout at them and throw more clods of earth. Eventually they stopped coming.
It took a few days before the black bear noticed that he was all alone, surrounded by piles of earth. He missed the other bears.
Suddenly he heard the voice of the giant redwood asking him what he really wanted.
“For them to listen,” said the black bear.
“Look around,” said the redwood. “What do you see?”
For a moment the black bear thought the other bears were back, but then he realised it was just piles of earth from all the clods he’d thrown.
“If all you want is for them to listen, why not talk to the earth?” said the redwood.
The black bear was not satisfied talking to the earth.
“I want them to understand,” said black bear.
“In that case,” said the redwood, “you don’t need to speak anymore. The other bears have understood what you have said.”
The black bear wasn’t satisfied.
“I want them to agree with me,” said the black bear.
“Go down to the pool,” said the redwood. “Tell your ideas to the bear in the pool. He’ll agree with you.”
The black bear went to the pool and told his ideas to his reflection, but he wasn’t satisfied.
“I don’t want to talk to myself. I want to talk with my friends and my family.”
A sigh of wind went through the redwood’s leaves.
“Then be gentle with your words and listen as much as you talk.”
The black bear sat quietly in the clearing for many days before the other bears noticed him. They were surprised he wasn’t in the middle of the clearing like he used to be. He was sat on a pile of earth at the edge. They were even more surprised when he didn’t speak.
Slowly more and more bears came to the clearing to join the daily chats.
The black bear noticed that the other bears understood his gentle words and he saw that though the bears disagreed with each other they all enjoyed the conversation and kept coming back.