A Reding Response To Ben Mikaelson’s Touching Spirit Bear

“What you focus on becomes a reality. Everybody carries anger inside. But also happiness. Those who focus on anger will always be angry. Those who focus on happiness will”. Touching Spirit Bear is a life-changing book that makes you think about if the justice systems that we have today are actually effective to everyone. The author, Ben Mikaelson, wants us to know that people can change only if they want to. He wants us to realize that putting people in jail doesn’t really fix them. This novel also made me think about anger and what you do just hurts yourself and others more. It also makes me think about power and that you don’t have power over people no matter what you try. Lastly, it made me think about nature and how everything matters, big and small.

When I started reading the book, Cole Matthews the antagonist made me think about anger and the effect you have on others. Cole is not an uncommon case that one would find in today’s world. Cole has not had a life I would call “easy” or “fair.” In the book Cole would talk about his parents as, “all my parents do is drink.” And his dad would beat him. This is evidenced in the Circle Justice meetings when Cole said, “Or you’ll what?” “Beat me?”…..” “You’re still lying!” he shouted. “You’re usually too drunk to know your own name!” Cole didn’t feel he had any other emotions other than anger and fear because of the way Cole’s dad would beat him and his mum not doing anything about it, resulted in Cole being angry at everyone and hurting other people because he didn’t know any other way. This made me think about how your actions can really have a huge effect on others, like because Cole’s dad beats him that has affected Cole to do the same. He can’t control his emotions and is more angry about his dad and himself. The reason it made me think this was mainly how damaged Peter became after Cole beat him, he became depressed and suicidal all because of Cole. When I relate this to the real world I instantly thought about bullying, because Cole is a bully but what most people don’t know is how every decision you make affects everyone around you. It made me think about kids who have attempted or faked their own life because of someone else's actions. Majority of people who pick on others are actually being bullied themselves, which is exactly like Cole, because his get abused by his dad he does the same to others.

In the book Cole makes his way in life by controlling people who fear him, his finds power in others fear and uses it to get what he wants. He uses abusive power just like his dad does to him and his mum. There are a lot of different views on power and how people get it and who had power over you. This made me think about when Cole first came face to face with the spirit bear ‘ [ he ] found courage in the bears stillness. It must be sacred. Why else would it not be attacking? ‘ this really point out that Cole gets his power from fear, he thought the bear was scared of him but really the bear was just being curious. The word courage really stood out to me because it became his symbol of power Cole feels when someone fears him. When Cole is on the island he reaches a point and finally realises he was alone ‘ he was powerless, nobody to control, nobody to blame’ Cole realised that he had to accept that he has to take responsibility for his actions and to blame it on someone else. If I think about this, it reminds me of Hitler, the reason he got so far was because others were afraid of him and that is where he got his power from, everybody was too afraid to stand up and go against him. The reason I thought this was when Hitler was in ‘power’ anyone could have just gone up to him and killed him, but because he had the ‘power’ of fear nobody would because they were scared that they would be killed themselves. Towards the end of the book Cole starts to learn the true meaning of power, he realised that ‘ The power to choose was the real power, not the fake power of making others afraid’ this made me think about how Cole spent his life trying to scare and manipulate people for his own advantages. He begins to realise this was only fake power and people did things for him because they were scared or tricked. Cole realises that real power comes when people respect you and have an interest in you. They want to be a part of your life because of your inspiration, to me that is real power.

When Cole first arrives on the island he finds himself immediately at the mercy of the elements. He deals with the cold and hunger, and when he had been mauled by the spirit bear, Cole finds out what really happens when you mess with a wild animal. He gets completely torn up by the bear mental and physical and almost dies of blood loss, broken bones, and hunger. Eventually though, Cole comes to understand that he is a part of nature himslef and he needs to work with the animals and not against them, he shows what the animals have tought him by carving them into a totem pole. When he realizes this his anger minimuses and he learns how to clear his head, in doing so he connects with the animal 'You aren't the only creature here. You're part of a much bigger circle. Learn your place or you'll have a rough time” The whole reason Cole almost dies in his first night on the island is because he doesn't realize that he has to respect the other creatures who are sharing the world with him. This made me think about the phrase ‘ treat others how you want to be treated’ so because Cole tried to kill the bear, the bear did the same in return. This brings me to the next quote that stood out to me which Edwin again saying to Cole “What ever you to to animal, you do to yourself”which just basically links back, so if you treat someone which respect you will get respect in return. I think Mikaelson was telling us that if you treat somthing with disrespect then you will get disrespected in return, so because Cole hurt the bear he hurt himslef more

Overall I really enjoyed the book and found it very inspiring, it changed my point of view on anger and how it affects you and others, power and what really is true power and nature and how only nature has control over anything and how everything should be treated as equal. At the end of the book I had a couple of questions, Is there hope for people like Cole and Peter? Was he right in what he did at the end? The book made me think about how in our own lives, we have to face the outcome of our actions. Anger can put you in a cage of your own making. But accepting yourself and for what you have done wrong reverse the effect. Every day we are given a choice about how to respond to the people around us and how we deal with certain situations. Take a look at what they've gone through. There's a lot of people out there like Cole. They need your understanding and forgiveness. So never assume why someone is angry or depressed because you don’t know anything under the layers that they are letting you see.  

16 December 2021
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