But It’s Not My Fault! …how to handle disasters
(Originally Posted in The Pawprint, in January, 2011)
Sometimes terrible things happen. A couple of weeks ago, the city of Brisbane, Australia, where some of my favorite friends live, was flooded, destroying homes and businesses and memories and lives. And at the same time, a man shot a lot of people, including a Judge and a Congresswoman, in Arizona. When things like this happen, it’s just human nature to ask why. With the flooding, scientists will find out things to help them predict weather patterns better, and engineers will see what they can learn to build better cities. But with that shooting it’s tougher. Why would anyone, even a crazy man, want to shoot these people?
A lot of people thought that perhaps some of the mean things that people on TV and radio had said about the Congresswoman might have inspired the man to want to hurt her. And some of her political opponents had even used words and pictures about guns when they were saying they wanted someone else to have her job. So the question came up: Could this sort of talk and advertising have affected his mind?
Well, really we still don’t know. And we probably never will. But the question is still important – is it okay to say bad, hurtful things about people, or things that sound like threats to them? Especially when you don’t know how your words might affect a person who hears them?
So, I thought a lot about it, and I know I’m only a dog, but I think it’s all about the word Responsibility. Imagine you’re at lunch, and you see someone cleaning up after herself. That shows responsibility, right? She’s doing what she should. Then you see someone else leaving a mess; he’s showing that he’s really irresponsible. But what if you then see someone else, who doesn’t have to, step in to help clean up that mess? Doesn’t he seem really responsible to you? Isn’t he someone you want to trust?
You see, that last person is taking responsibility for things that aren’t even his fault. He isn’t complaining about whether or not the mess is unfair. Instead he’s choosing to do whatever he can to make his world a better place.
So in that same way, I’d love it if the people on TV and radio who say or send such terrible things about others would stop. Whether or not that shooting was their fault. Just because it might have been, or could be next time! In other words, I’d like them to be more responsible.
Now, I believe in doing as I ask others to do. And so I’ve looked over what I’ve written on my website, and… wow, do you know what? I’ve done the same thing! I have written over and over again about how useless, stinky, and awful a certain group of beings are! Not Congresspeople or Judges or Republicans or Democrats, but… CATS!!!
And it’s true! I don’t like cats at all! They do smell terrible and they walk through my yard in that slow smug way that just drives me up the wall, and they have that yowling sound that hurts my ears, and…
…And yet, I don’t wish for anything bad to happen to any cat, ever!
Sure I want to chase them out of my yard, but that’s just because I’m a dog. But do I want someone who reads my writing to go off and hurt a cat? Absolutely Not!
I love this world. I love sniffing around it, making friends in it, playing, finding good things to eat – and I don’t want bad things to happen to anyone in it. And of course, I have lots of friends who really love cats. And I sure don’t want them to be sad because something happened to their kitty.
So I’ll say it simply: Don’t Hurt Cats! Ever! Pet them, feed them, take them to the vet, let them sleep curled up in your neck if you like! (But don’t bring them near me, or they’ll be chased up a tree in two seconds!)
And if anyone who reads anything I’ve written has ever been inspired to treat a cat badly, I am sorry. Deeply, truly sorry. And I’ll be happy to apologize to that cat, or that cat’s friends.
So kids, that’s me taking responsibility. It’s a great thing to try to do. And if you can live your life with joy and all sorts of bratty fun, but also be able to take responsibility when it’s necessary, you’ll be on the road to becoming great adults. And you’ll make me proud, and help make this world the sort of place we all can enjoy.
Well, at least as long as the weather is kind!