Alan Weiss’s Monday Morning Memo® – 3/28/16

I‘ve become a student of dogs, creatures smart enough to inveigle themselves into our camps 10,000 years ago and which we’ve never been able to get rid of since! Ailurophiles have their own world, it’s not of interest to me.

There are species-specific traits of dogs: males mark their territory, they have keener hearing and scent abilities than humans. Then there are breed-specific traits: My German Shepherds need to have work or games to do, are great with kids, will try to intimidate stangers. Finally, we have dog-specific traits: Koufax, a shepherd, was rather aloof and would not play any kind of retrieving game while Bentley, also a shepherd, wants to interact all day and is a fantastic Frisbee athlete.

Why do we treat people solely as breed-specific so often? We talk about “blue state or red state” voters, about millenials, baby boomers, “deniers,” “one percenters,” radicals, “neos,” and so on. Someone tried to tell me the other day “you can’t expect anyone under 35 to…” Yes, I can. I believe we are individuals with free will and sentience, self-aware and capable of individual choices.

Once I label you, all communication ceases, all understanding is lost, all empathy is abandoned. I see you as a pit bull, or a beagle, or a labrador—one of “them.” I’ve found dogs of every breed can be jocund and a pleasure to be around. Shouldn’t we expect as much from each individual person we meet?

Jesus not only comforted the afflicted but afflicted the comfortable.

— Joseph Joubert

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