A Little Heart

July 21, 2000
On the Other Hand by Kay Wilson-BoltonOn a recent business trip to Nashville, we had time to spare before our flight home and headed for the local mall.I now understand why teens can spend the afternoon at the mall. I see how they could spend a week. We saw a fish and game store - 150,000 square feet of fish and game store (three acres or so) - among many other unbelievably unique, intriguing, attractive stores, shops, kiosks, and vendors. “Why not my town?” I thought.We discovered a store that changed my life.It was called “The Bear Workshop.” The slogans read: “Bears make great friends.” “Bears love for a lifetime.” “Bears make a difference.” “Bears last.”Since we have a dog named Bear and we know about all of those things, we took a closer look.The store was filled with children and their parents. There were many bins lining the walls that were filled with “bear bodies” - waiting to be brought to life.The children voted on the “bear body” of their choice and then walked to the attendant who shaped the bear by filling it with bear fuzz - legs first, then arms, head, shoulders and torso. Some bears were really firm, some were really soft. Most were in-between, but each child had a chance to say “too much,” “too little” or “just right.” Kind of like a vote.They chose a name - some were cute, some purposeful, some were perfunctory.Every child was determined to have a bear they could live with - one that was responsive, willing, and capable of being a good friend for a long time. Some of the children took great pains to shape the Bear. Too soft was not good; too firm was not comfortable; too mediocre was not good either.
Once the vote was cast for just the right Bear, the attendant took a special moment for the child to declare a name. As the name was announced the Bear was pulled together at the back. But first, the child had the responsibility of placing a satin red heart inside the Bear.As the heart was put in place, along with the computer chip that would help the Bear find its owner if returned to the Bear Store, the Bear took on a life and a personality - as well as a responsibility.I can’t help but think that the events at the Bear Store relate to our upcoming election.We need Bears with a Heart. We need Bears who can be shaped by and respond to public opinion. We need Bears who are not too soft, too hard, or too anything. We need Bears who are just right.Even adults will create Bears if there is a heart in place. That means you do the right thing, for the right reason and for the greatest number of people.We need Bears with a name and identity of their own; bears that can be returned home if lost.If there are some Bears out there wanting to serve their town, listen up!The council candidates who want the greatest good for the greatest number of people will make the next four years “bearable.”

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