Loud music make us insane. But we’ll tolerate some barking.
A driver splashing us when they drive through a puddle gets the finger. But we just grab the fabric spray when a dog with muddy paws gives us a “hug.”
We give dogs breaks because they don’t have malice. But most people don’t either.
So why do we forgive dogs before humans?
Give ‘Em A Break
I’ve adopted a new ruling idea for my life.
It’s to give everyone a break for occasionally being a jerk.
After all, I do it for dogs. I don’t expect puppies to be well-behaved. If a dog barks and lunges at us on a walk, I assume they haven’t been socialized and need some forbearance (and a little distance).
And when Honey barks because she’s tired of waiting for a walk, I get up and move.
Now I’m trying to do the same thing for humans. Because everyone deserves a break. Even when they’re being a jerk.
Because I’ve been a jerk too. And I’ve gotten more than my share of breaks.
Small Mistakes Should Not Be Fatal
There’s one time when I find it hard to give people a break. It’s when they justify violent or deadly force against someone by saying, “Well, they shouldn’t have done that (selling cigarettes, talking back to police, changing lanes without signaling) if they didn’t want to get in trouble.
Is death the appropriate consequence for minor infractions of the law or irritation at being harassed?
Because if so, I can’t believe how lucky I’ve been.
I’ve been pulled over for speeding. I’ve gotten behind the wheel of a car after having too many drinks to drive safely and was lucky not to hurt anyone else or myself.
As a teenager, I used to break into houses under construction to have a place to hang out with my friends.
Oh yeah, and I love listening to really, really loud music. Heavy metal.
Not once has anyone taken a shot at me.
Instead, I’ve just been given breaks for being a jerk.
I feel like a puppy.
We Need More Grace
I don’t think recycling or turning down the thermostat will stop global warming. Giving a dollar to that homeless guy won’t stop poverty. And showing a little grace to someone else won’t address the systemic racism and classism that permeates our society.
But it’s a start.
And it’s a tool to help us become more thoughtful. More conscious. On the way to making bigger changes in the way we treat our citizens.
That’s never a bad thing.
So the next time someone pisses you off by their behavior, tell yourself they probably came from a puppy mill and weren’t properly socialized.
If you read click bait on Facebook that’s written to make you feel outrage and self-righteousness about how bad a parent someone is, assume they probably didn’t get enough exercise that day and they’re acting out their frustration.
And if you’re ever tempted to blame a victim of violence for a horrific response to a minor infraction, ask yourself how you’d respond to a puppy who chewed up your phone or peed on your bed.
I bet you wouldn’t shoot him, right? Because some reactions are just insane.
photo credits (Black Lives Matter demonstration): Million March Minnesota in downtown Minneapolis via photopin (license), (Pit bull puppy): Baby puppy pit bull, Bach via photopin (license). Click on the images to learn more about the photographers.