I stop to pet dogs during my runs. I even stop to pet dogs during my rides now and then. If a dog is walking along with its owners and looks like it would appreciate a good pet, I stop and pet it. I have met many nice dogs this way.
That means I’ve also met a few not so nice dogs. But that’s okay too. I always ask the owner if their dogs like people. Sometimes they say no. The dog stares at me like, “You pet me. You pay the price.”
Yesterday a couple in their late 60s or early 70s was out walking their little black chihuahua on the Batavia Riverwalk path. They were pushing a baby stroller too. I figured there was a grandchild in there. I asked if their little black dog likes people. They said, “No. He’s a typical chihuahua.” I know about that. My brother once got bit on the lip by one of those dogs and needed stitches to close up the wound.
So I said hello to the suspicious little critter. She growled at me. So I starting up running again and peeked into the baby carrier as I passed, “Is there a grandchild in there?”
“No,” they laughed. “It’s for the dog.”
Some days while I’m out running, the Strava satellite in its eternal wisdom must think, “WTF? Why is this guy stopping so much?”
And indeed, I’ll stop and start a few times if the run is not a long one, and time is not of the essence, and there are dogs about. Yesterday I got to pet a beautiful gray-tan border collie mix that was absolutely a beautiful dog. She kissed my face with licks and jumped up a little. The owners always apologize when dogs do that.
In Geneva last week, I saw a similarly pretty dog. But the owner told me his dog does not like men. Something happened in the life of that dog to make her wary. She’s not alone. People can be cruel to animals. We all know that. Some folks like Michael Vick become famous for their cruelty. Millions of others abuse animals and we never know about it.
There is apparently a connection between animal cruelty and other forms of abuse in this world. Typically, it’s about a controlling personality. People project their anger and self-loathing onto all sorts of targets, and too often it’s the case that animals become targets for painfully unreconciled emotions. Often people who abuse animals have been abused themselves in some way. By angry parents. By other forces in life. So it’s a wicked cycle.
There’s a whole lot of angry people in America right now who don’t know or even understand all the reasons why they’re angry. In some cases, their reasons are borrowed or adopted secondhand. They choose racism or nationalism or religion to turn their rage on others.
Or, they focus all their anger on one subject, such as abortion. Then it becomes an irrational obsession to find politicians who claim to support their cause and nothing else matters. Other people may be suffering for many other reasons, but that single-issue voter is going to get their way, and no one is going to get in their way, until their dying day.
That’s how people and organizations that provide legitimate abortion services wind up in the cross-hairs of so-called Pro-Lifers. When it comes to expressing anger toward those with whom we disagree, it’s not so much about the issues… as it is about getting in the way of angry people.
People who love animals are known to get a little obsessive too. The PETA organization has done some violent protests. Throwing red paint on real fur garments comes to mind. The passions behind those actions are just as real as those who fight Pr0-Life battles.
Interestingly, those two movements have never synced up. There must be some separation at their core that keeps them from recognizing that it’s all about protection of life in the end. Treating animals well and treating the lives of human beings well are very much parallel objectives. We know from many studies that animal abusers often turn out to be criminal in other ways, even taking human life.
But perhaps PETA is considered a liberal cause while Pro-Life, anti-abortion motives are ostensibly conservative? And so the two “Pro-Life” movements remain separate and unequal.
All I know is that I’m what most people would call Pro-Choice. I believe that abortions should be legal. I also believe that important women’s health services such as birth control counseling and protection should be readily available. I believe that organizations such as Planned Parenthood provide incredibly sane programs to protect and preserve the lives of women and the children they ultimately choose to bear.
But note the word “choose.” The reason Planned Parenthood is named “planned parenthood” is to give women that option to choose how and when they bear children. If women live in circumstances where men behave irresponsibly in their child-bearing habits, then women deserve the right to control how and when they conceive. And if pregnancy happens by accident, or worse yet, by force, the option should exist to terminate that pregnancy. It should be legal to get an abortion.
The key to all this is that ultimate responsibility rests with the woman, and no one else. Beyond that however lies a massive responsibility of society to consider its responsibility to women. And here’s a difficult kicker. As determined as it is to end legal abortion, the Pro-Life movement in its fervor has a horrid confession to make. It has failed to protect women in almost every way.
When Pro-Lifers sign up to protest Planned Parenthood and de-fund these vital services, they are essentially beating the women who need those services into a painful submission. To draw an ugly but true paradigm, it’s like fostering animal cruelty. Because if a dog does something you consider bad and you immediately beat the creature senseless for its actions, that dog will never learn from its behaviors. The truth in all animal behaviors is that to get a desirable reaction, you have to teach a desirable action.
That’s not to insinuate that women act or behave like dogs. But there are parallels in compassion. Desirable actions and reactions are the product of love and care, not violent protest or punishment. That’s why Planned Parenthood and organizations like it are the true Pro-Life organizations. They actually work with women to provide solutions. The Pro-Life movement may try in some respects to do the same, but it’s more about the punishment and rage than it is about compassion. Hence the heinous reaction of Donald Trump who publicly stated that women who get an abortion deserve some kind of punishment. Donald Trump and men like him believe they are the dispensers of truth. Yet they behave like abusive fathers or spouses. With his “You’re Fired!” mentality Trump has long acted like an abuser in public, and has developed a following as a result among people whose attraction to that abuse aligns them with other abusive, defensive and controlling behaviors.
I know several woman that have been through an abortion procedure. None of them are evil, careless people. Some were in abusively controlling relationships where the man was essentially forcing his will upon the woman. Some of those men were physically and emotionally abusive. The combined abuse and lack of ultimate love in the relationship determined the outcome of those pregnancies. In some respects the choice to terminate those pregnancies was no choice at all.
Yes, adoption is a wonderful path is a woman can afford to go that route. And yes, it will be a better world when less abortions are necessary. The cause of making abortion “legal and rare” is however, the expression of a society that cares enough to recognize the entirety of the situation, not just the ideological call to action on a single-issue cause.
I stop to pet dogs during my runs because it is like tapping into the world where living creatures care about each other. Dog owners obviously have made that commitment to care about a creature they love. Some of those dog owners can be grumpy and shy. Yet when I pet their animals we share a common bond. Our politics and beliefs may be entirely different. They may vote Trump and I’ll vote Clinton. But when I pet their scruffy little dog with fur or hair like wire, and visit with that animal on its own terms, there is a shared bond in this world that says we can care about each other. And I believe in that.
You may not agree with me on these issues. You may say that every abortion is murder, or the taking of a human life. But until you recognize that avoiding that situation is the real cure for abortion, you have no cause to speak. And if your church or religion uses rhythm method to seek the same goal as Planned Parenthood in preventing pregnancies, youre a hypocrite. And shut the hell up.
And don’t even talk about abstinence. That’s just repression in a can, and abusive in its own right.
SEEK JUSTICE. LOVE LIFE.