I currently live in a house that has both a cat and a dog in it. The cat … Lucky … has been here for years, the dog … Brown Dog… has only been a resident since this past summer. They are both friendly, playful critters, living a good life. And as with just about every living creature I have ever encountered, they both have their bad days and their good days. Sometimes they are needy, sometimes they are aloof. Sometimes they are filled with energy, sometimes they are sleepy. Every day is different, yet they also have a tight routine that upsets them if the deviate from it too much. They are members of the family.
Lucky was not too happy when Brown Dog invaded her space. Brown Dog is just happy to have a safe place to stay, a place where she knows she will have her needs met. Lucky wants things to remain the way they always have been, with her basically ruling the household and thus ensuring all of HER needs are met … screw everybody else. Brown Dog loves … well … everyone. Lucky loves whoever follows her rules. Don’t get me wrong, I like Lucky … but they have very different personalities, beyond being different species. Again, they are both family.
For the most part they get along fine. They wont exactly play with each other, but they will greet each other, and tolerate each other under most circumstances. Occasionally something happens that causes friction between them. Lucky is about 8 lbs, Brown Dog about 40. Lucky is afraid of B.D., yet ironically Brown Dog is even more afraid of Lucky. Lucky makes it clear when she is displeased by hissing, or even swatting, and B. D. knows to heed the warning. She will avoid Lucky rather than face her displeasure.
The other day, Brown Dog and I just came in from a walk, and Lucky happened to be there when we arrived. Brown Dog did nothing other than approach Lucky to greet her, but Lucky saw it as a threat and actually attacked B.D. In the past, Brown Dog would back off. But this time, she had apparently had enough of Lucky’s often unwarranted fear and aggression, and she actually fought back. Lucky was not hurt, but she definitely lost the exchange.
Why am I sharing this anecdote?
Because it dawned on me that it is a metaphor for what is happening in the world today, especially in my country.
Brown Dog is effectively an immigrant, maybe even a refugee (she is technically a rescue dog). Lucky is the local who has had a very comfortable life, but she has basically been completely sheltered from the rest of the world. She always has issues when her comfortable life is altered in any way, but she generally gets over it when it is temporary. But now she feels threatened, because the change is not so temporary. Yet the threat is really in her perception only. Brown Dog just wants to be her friend and live a happy life. Lucky is really the one not allowing that to happen. And in her fear … fear of change, fear of the unknown, fear of something different from herself, she lashes out. She is NOT an aggressive cat, but fear brings out her aggression. Nor is Brown Dog an aggressive dog. The only time I ever saw her react aggressively is when she was defending herself, and even THAT was rare. Usually she would just take aggression in bewilderment, or just back off. But apparently even she has her limits. Brown Dog proved that she actually has the power to do harm, yet never expressed this until she was attacked because of Lucky’s fear.
This is EXACTLY how many in our world are reacting to events in today’s world.
There is one MAJOR difference here. Lucky and Brown Dog are animals. They are governed by instinct. And while they are both pretty smart animals, there understanding of events is limited. Humans, on the other hand, do not need to be governed by instinct. They can choose how they react in a given situation. They can give into fear, and react instinctively, fleeing or attacking just like animals. Or they can try to UNDERSTAND, and recognize that the fear may actually just be that … an instinctual reaction. As with my animal companions, continuously letting fear be the guide of our actions will ultimately result in only one thing … unnecessary violence. The irony being that the violence did not really improve anything. The altercation did not really change much … other than make Lucky and Brown Dog even MORE wary of each other. That is not exactly a recipe for peaceful coexistence.
So I ask you, which seems like the better choice? Give in to fear, thus pretty much ensuring more violence? Or convert the fear to caution and open our hearts to those who might have need of us?,I know what MY choice would be. What is yours?