A Bear Necessities Friendship

My next example of a quality friendship in my series, New Year; New Types of Friends qualifies as both printed literature and a cartoon. The Jungle Book was written as a book in 1894 by Rudyard Kipling about a boy named Mowgli, who grows up in the jungle among his animal friends. Kipling’s book became even more popular after the 1967 Disney animated movie which humanized the animals. In particular, the film features Baloo, the bear, who helps Mowgli learn the “bare necessities” of life. Baloo has stripped down the unnecessary complications to enjoy a life of simplicity. Baloo is a great example of a friend who helps us eliminate stress and find happiness; something every man needs. 

About Rudyard Kipling 

Rudyard Kipling

Joseph Rudyard Kipling (December 30, 1865 – January 18, 1936) was an English novelist, short-story writer, poet, and journalist. He was born in British India, which inspired much of his work. His father was a professor in art school. Even though Rudyard spent his early childhood in India, he went to school in England. After he finished his studies, Rudyard went back to India and worked as a journalist for local newspapers. 

In 1894, Kipling published his most popular work “The Jungle Book” which got its sequence as “The Jungle Book 2.” From 1902, his life was connected to England where he played an important role in the political and cultural life of his time. In 1907, he won a Nobel prize. He was a supporter of order and discipline and he carried those life lessons into his work. He theorized that the law about British colonization was good. Despite his literary work, Kipling was judged for being a supporter of British imperialism.

About The Jungle Book

The Jungle Book is Kipling’s collection of stories about Mowgli, the man-cub, Baloo, the bear, and Bagheera, the black panther who protects the man-cub from his enemy, Shere Khan, the tiger. The stories were published in magazines between 1893 and 1894. Each story included original illustrations, some made by the author’s father, John Lockwood Kipling. Although the stories were written while living in Vermont, Kipling found inspiration in his childhood spent in India. He returned there for a couple of years after finishing college. Allegedly, the stories were dedicated to his daughter Josephine, who died from pneumonia in 1899 at age six, not long after the first edition of the book was published.

The book consists of 14 chapters or stories about Mowgli, who got lost in a jungle when he was young. A mother wolf found the boy and accepted him as one of her own. He was brought up and raised among animals who took good care of him. They taught him the laws of the jungle. Mowgli lived happily and carefree, but the tiger Shere-Khan spread fear among the jungle animals, scaring Mowgli as well.

In the stories, animals are personified. They become intelligent as humans, caring and emotionally attached to the boy like he was one of their own. Mowgli is capable of talking to them, as they were given the knowledge of human speech or Mowgli somehow succeeded in learning their way of communication. The animals have high moral standards and laws which they obey and teach Mowgli. They preach respect among all living beings and Nature itself. Besides the vicious assassin tiger Sheer-Khan, humans are the leading villains in the book. People are described as usurpers of nature; scaring other living creatures. They act recklessly and are unaware of the consequences of their actions.

The Disney Influence 

Kipling’s book has been adapted into a wide variety of media formats. The Walt Disney Company’s 1967 animated film was the last film overseen by Walt Disney before his death in 1966. Walt modified the plot, characters, and even the originally-dark tone of Kipling’s original book. As the story goes, Walt gave the writers of the film a copy of Kipling’s book, but told them “the first thing I want you to do is not read it.” By all accounts, the ending was something he fought for almost to his deathbed. What emerged though is a funny and immensely catchy film about the pursuit of joy. The 2016 remake of The Jungle Book used live-action/computer-generated imagery.

Friendship also connects the whole film together. Mowgli and his friends Baloo, Bagheera, and Kaa, the python, against the scary tiger Sheer-Khan to show viewers how to face our fears, gain confidence and triumph over them. This is shown beautifully when Mowgli faces off with Shere Khan to save Baloo.  

The “Bare Necessities” from a Bear

The 1967 Disney film reminds us to lead a simple and happy life. “The Bare Necessities” is arguably the most recognizable song performed as a duet between Baloo and Mowgli. Written by the American folk singer Terry Gilkyson (1916-1999), it was sung by Phil Harris as Baloo and Bruce Reitherman as Mowgli. The song’s title is a pun, sung by a bear, which helps retain its charm. The punchline is that Baloo is telling Mowgli that “the bare necessities” are nothing he needs to actually seek out; they will come if he just learns how to relax. In Baloo’s mind, his environment is so abundant that he can live a long, happy life just chillin’ as opposed to overly exerting himself.

On a general philosophical level, the ideology of minimalism is the key to a happy life and Baloo wants Mowgli to accept this similar type of outlook. He’s a friend who helps eliminate stress and find happiness.

Small GB logo

GodBuddy Focus

Baloo is a true friend, willing to do whatever is best for Mowgli, though sometimes reluctantly. He is the emotional heart of the Disney movie. He’s willing to risk hurting the boy when he insists that Bagheera is right about Mowgli going to the Man-Village. He runs into danger in King Louie’s temple to save Mowgli without a second thought. The bear is willing to sacrifice himself in order to save Mowgli’s life.

In one of the most important messages of the film, Bagheera’s eulogy after Baloo dies sums up the point of their friendship: “You must remember, Mowgli; greater love hath no one than he who lays down his life for his friend.” This is a quote directly from Jesus while He is preparing His disciples for His imminent death on the cross. Jesus commanded them to love one another (John 15:12) and that love means death (John 15:13). Jesus emphasizes, “You are my friends if you do what I command you.” (John 15:14).

Laying down your life for your friends may also mean risking your friendship by challenging them to a less stressful life. Help him eliminate complexity and enjoy every day to its fullest. Challenge him to be content with what he has and not strive for more. GodBuddies help you see the value of eliminating stress and finding happiness. So be a friend who helps him see the bare necessities of a godly life.

My next few posts continue the examples of friendships from the cartoons.  


2 Responses

  1. Thanks for weighing in Jay and your nice comments about the posts. I;d be interested in hearing more about what you think about differently after reading this and what you are going to do about it. Take care brother!

Leave a Comment

Recent Posts

Wisdom for Men

Great Friendships Require Trust and Confidentiality

This quote from Scottish author, poet, minister, and pioneer of modern fantasy literature, George MacDonald (1824-1905) reminds us about an important aspect of all relationships: trust. In many ways, trust is key to any meaningful or serious relationship — whether it’s in marriage, a close friendship, or even a professional

Read More »
Basic Training

Missing My GodBuddy

Today is the 10th anniversary of the unexpected passing of one of my earliest GodBuddies, Christopher J. Davolos, who died on April 1, 2014, after exercising during his lunch break at work. Chris’ influence on me and his friendship embodied the GodBuddy concept, which is why my website is dedicated

Read More »
Basic Training

Rich’s C21 Magazine Article

I’m excited to hit a new milestone in my emerging writing career. I probably should have posted earlier that my article about the friendship between President Ronald Reagan and Tip O’Neil appeared in C21 Resources, a magazine from Boston College. It’s a humbling accomplishment to get published by this prestigious

Read More »