You may have noticed I’ve been quiescent for a bit. Why? No one reason. Many small or medium sized ones combined to overwhelming proportions. Plus I’ve been thinking – something I do a lot of.
Today I start with a Duke the dog story. I was talking with my roommate, sitting on a hassock next to the couch while eating some bean soup when “what to my wondering eyes should appear” but a pink shiny tongue sans any reindeer and with a little old flick so lively and quick I knew in a minute the dog would nick – the soup from my spoon. And he did. So, being adept at these things, I stared at him and then put the spoon back in the soup. I started to take another bite, thought better of it, tsked at him and put the soup in the sink.
I fed it to him later, so as not to reward him for almost literally taking the food out of my mouth. I suspect we will be suffering from dog gas attacks for the next couple of days since he did polish off the soup later. (Waste not want not.)
Earlier in the day he escaped with one of those extendable leashes on and got hooked in some bushes. It took a bit of doing to get him out and he was a bit of a mess by the time it was over. And here is where the hearing part comes in. He may well have given off a growl or rumble that I could not hear. Certainly, he looked distressed, but I was assuring him orally to hold still and I’d unclip him when he snapped at me. Mind you, he didn’t hurt me – didn’t even touch me, his teeth literally slid down the inside of my palm. Had he intended to nail me he’d have done so. That being said, he became a very submissive little dog in about 10 seconds as I am the only Alpha allowed in this house. However, I wondered if I just plain missed something that I should have responded to a split second before, which leads to all sorts of thoughts – like what do we miss with others that lead to huge problems – massive traffic accidents, people “going postal” in one way or the other, you name it.
Do we miss the subtle clues because of inattention? Because we’re too stressed? Embarrassed to come forward? Denial? Are we deaf or blind to what goes on around is in a real way? I heard it said recently that hearing people are deaf from the neck down – do not give off any sign if they are happy, sad, ready to bite – and therefore, no one understands what in the dickens is going on with them. Is that the case?
We’ve had a lot of extreme violence in the US lately and that has really fixated us on issues of mental health and firearms. I noticed in today’s news that 10 children were killed in a land mind explosion in Afghanistan. It was only because I am a news junkie that I found it. Do the parents of these children suffer less? Assuming they are not orphans, that is. I’ve heard it called compassion fatigue. I tend to think it is more like the Country song about “My give a d*mn’s busted.” If that is the case – or if we are merely deaf from the neck down as well as insensate between the ears – that explains so much.
It explains how, until recently, we sentenced our children to death in America. Mind you, I’m a death penalty agnostic, but no one under the age of 18 – and probably not an 18-year-old – should be sentenced to death because of brain development issues. As in, the average 18 year old’s brain isn’t fully developed yet – in fact, the average boy doesn’t have an adult brain until around age 23-25. It explains how we try, sentence, and execute the mentally deficient and mentally ill who are found to be legally sane. It explains denying equal access to justice to the poor, the deaf, the blind, etc., etc.
Each and every person in prison or jail was once someone’s newborn. I challenge you to take out a photo of your firstborn child, look at it, and imagine them as a convicted killer.
These babies were each born with a genetic payload that brought them health or disease, brilliance or dullness of mind. They were not, however, provided with an equal chance. Some were born addicted to cocaine, heroin or fetal alcohol. Some were abused, some neglected. Some died – in fact, we lose children every day to abuse and neglect and we seem to be both blind and deaf to this fact.
We have kids grow up in foster care who are in 50-60 different homes in a decade. I have personally met a girl who was in 25 foster homes. What is wrong with this picture? When I was a child protection worker we only took kids who were at the highest risk. We have kids in institutions who are raped and tortured by staff and co-inmates. Then, when we get some kid who commits a crime (or is accused of it) we act like he (generally it is a he) is “the bad seed.” Most of these people come from tortured backgrounds in one way or another.
My Mother was Catholic. I am not. However, she was not deaf in any regard – from the neck down or the neck up. Nor was she blind. She was one of the most aware people I have ever met. And one of the most compassionate. She is probably the reason I’ve spent a large amount of my life in social advocacy. She used to tell me over and over again, “Faith without works is dead.” I’m not here to debate Biblical references, especially since I’m not a believer, but my mother was absolutely right. We cannot afford to be deaf or blind to the needs of others. We cannot afford to miss the cues that tell us another is suffering. Maybe we only lose the one – as in when people suicide – and that is a tragedy. But at other times we lose far more. We lose many people – and worse than that, we lose a little more of our humanity every day.
Today I missed something that told me our little dog was feeling way too stressed at that moment for him to let me unclip his collar, even though he wanted to get unstuck. However, each day we miss things about others in our society who are seriously stuck. Somehow, things have got to change or we’ll have more people like Felix Garcia in jail for a crime he did not commit, more dead children, more dead adults (at their own hands or the hands of others) and a great deal more suffering in the world.
We can stop it, you know. By just paying attention. And once we are no longer deaf from the neck down or blind between the ears – then doing just one thing to help. Feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, providing for the care of those who are sick and suffering. We cannot expect positive changes in our society or the world unless we invest in those who need the most.
Okay, I’m putting my soapbox away now.
See what happens when the dog eats my soup?
It all actually makes sense. Really, it does – from the soup to the snap to missing signs and signals, to societal ills and the cure for same – paying attention and then doing something positive as an act of faith – in God, in the human spirit, in whatever your higher power is. Honest.