‘No,’ replied the lady walking along the sidewalk, a dog trotting nearby.
So he reached out his hand to pet the dog and came away with bloody fingers.
‘I thought you said your dog didn’t bite!’
‘He doesn’t. That’s not my dog.’
There’s an ancient proverb that seems to suggest the avoidance of conflict not our own; to not intermeddle in the affairs of others; that if people want to fight and quarrel we should just pass it by, continue on our merry way and let them duke it out.
Kind of a ‘not my dog’ or ‘I don’t have a dog in this fight’ ambivalence.
Taken to extremes, it’s sometimes called the (Kitty) “Genovese syndrome” of indifference, despite a murder taking place.
However, “taking a dog by the ears; which are short, and difficult to be held, and tender; and therefore cannot bear to be held by them, especially to be pulled and lugged by them, and which is very provoking; and as such a man has work enough to do to hold him, so he is in danger of being bitten by him, at least when he is forced to let go his hold” – it is that man, says Gill, “that interferes in a quarrel in a furious manner,” that is a fool.
The admonition does not suggest we bury our head in the sand, or pretend we neither see, nor hear, nor speak of evil but rather in the unavoidable conflict – that conflict that we in fact make our own because, after all, we’re community, we’re in this together, we still live on this planet – that in that conflict we avoid name-calling and ad hominem responses of whichGraham speaks.
Conversely, and with apologies to dogs and dog lovers it is, sadly – the presidential election comes to mind – a dog-eat-dog world, in which people will do anything and say anything to be successful, even if what they do harms others.
Dogs, so disparaged, evidently don’t go to heaven.
But angels do. And here’s what English writer Alexander Pope (1688-1744) wrote about angels, and conflict: “fools rush in where angels fear to tread.”
Interestingly this famous quote – referenced in books and speeches (Abraham Lincoln, October 16, 1854), songs and movies – comes from Pope’s piece entitled “An Essay on Criticism” where he intended this: “Despite the harmful effects of bad criticism, literature requires worthy criticism.”
A leader’s greatest need from those he or she would represent is not loyalty, but honesty.
Honest – and worthy criticism – wrote John Pilger, editor of “Tell Me No Lies – Investigative Journalism That Changed the World”, is “journalism’s paramount role, that not only keeps the record straight but holds those in power to account.”
Yes we do have a dog in this fight.