A parable for every day life during the strange days of 2020.
Hint: It is and it’s not about dogs and treasure bags.
On a routine walk through our neighborhood I noticed all three pups enjoying some extra sniffs, and marking territory all in the same spot. As I investigated the area, I noticed a treasure pile left behind by an unknown pup. While random piles are highly regarded in the dog community, I find the lack of clean up frustrating.
It’s bad manners. It defies an unwritten law of the neighborhood. If you walk your dog, you clean up after your dog. It’s as simple as that.
So, some people carry bags and diligently clean up after their dogs. Other people don’t bother. Again, it’s really simple. Just like every other aspect of life, some people feel an obligation to comply with even the unwritten constructs of society while others do not.
And, hey, it’s America! Right?
So, why am I bothered when I find left behind dog piles?
First and foremost, the neglect of others casts a shadow of suspicion on ME. Neighbors with defiled yards become frustrated and label all of us dog parents as irresponsible. In retaliation, yard signs go up refusing dogs permission to relieve themselves.
In further response, dog walkers such as myself naturally want to defend our reputations as responsible. I often want to hold my poop bag high in the air and declare, “Look I’m cleaning up after my dogs. It wasn’t me!”
Yet, on this particular day another thought crossed my mind. “Why don’t I just pick it up?” You know, the unwelcome pile from some other dog. I have a bag. I’m already picking up treasures. Why not just do a little extra clean up?
Another thought just as quickly passed by, “But it’s not my job! It’s not my responsibility to clean up after other people…”
Hmmm… so what is the right thing to do?
I chose to humble myself and pick up something that was not my responsibility. I took action, despite my feelings regarding the fairness of the situation. My neighbors and the community we share are precious to me. And so, it is my job, as far as I have opportunity, to go above and beyond to cultivate peace. In fact, when I think about it further I want to create a reputation as one who cares more about my neighbor than my job description.
That’s how I see it. How about you?