The Biblical quote that is the title of this essay is very appropriate today, as it applies to a wide range of issues we have had our face pushed into this week. In this essay, I am going to touch on two issues which are, in my opinion, related to each other on a basic level.
Of course, there is the current hot topic in the news – the killings at Newtown. So much time has been spent staring at that event and its aftermath that it seems impossible anything could have been overlooked. As with most horrendous moments like this, our staring at it so closely causes it to grow to fill the entire world. I am sure there are thousands of schools around the country that have seen increased absenteeism rates because parents and students have become scared of attending. In spite ofthe fact that there ARE huge numbers of schools, and, the number of them that have suffered this sort of attack is tiny, too many people feel that tomorrow their school will be next. This leaves a general haze of fear in one’s mind that causes us to believe that the world is increasingly dangerous. The fact that the actual recorded rate of violent crimes has been dropping steadily for many years does not make a bit of difference. The really sad things that I see here are that the massive amounts of attention by the press and the resulting, unending drumbeat of concern over the event and the dangers of the day, are spreading a layer of fear and trauma through every child that is exposed to the reporting. This level of fear is a terrible thing to program into the minds ofAmerica’s children because, in the long run, it will have many negative effects on their interactions with others, with their ability to deal with the world, and, their reactions to other events..
The other topic that is bubbling around in my mind is our treatement of companion animals. Recently, I was exchanging some posts on FaceBook with a nephew’s wife, and, the topic of companion animals came up. She had posted a note asking us to “like” a local animal shelter, partly because she had gotten a great companion animal from them. I did “like” it, although it was not an easy decision. This particular shelter is a “kill” shelter. They euthanized about 9,000 of the 15,000 animals that came into their facility in 2011, and, that percentage is not an uncommon one. Now, I am sure that some of these animals had been maltreated, or were so old, or sick, that it may well have been best for them to be put down. However, I suspect that a much larger percentage of the animals were healthy and would have made excellent companions for someone, but, were considered to be un-adoptable because they were older (I. E. not puppies or kittens) or may have needed some re-socialization to deal well with humans (having had their trust in humanity damaged by abandonment, or living in the wild for a while). Some of the animals that came into the shelter were strays that were nearly feral. Some were animals that their “owners” took out into the countryside and dumped out of the car because they were no longer convenient, or did not match the new furniture colors, or, belonged to their spouse, who they wanted to hurt. Some, I am sure, were kittens or puppies that the owners did not want to deal with but had been produced by their un-neutered animal. In any case, it is a fact that at peak times of the year, this shelter and many other “kill” shelters are so overwhelmed with animals coming in that the life-span of those animals is measured in hours. It might become days, but, it never becomes weeks or months before they are put down.
These two examples of mankind’s inhumanity to itself and to the small lives who come under our stewardship are major examples of areas where we need to improve ourselves. Now, how can we “fix” the problems I have touched on? I still do not have any complete or easy answers. I still believe that one of my previous posts, discussing the need for better, more value-based parenting would be a good start. As for the gun issue, I do not think that that current, emotion-based fulminations over guns, and the call for tougher regulations will do much to change the problem. Nor, for that matter will be the increased demonization of those with mental illnesses or quirks of any sort. Although they both fall into the big bucket of neurological issues, people on the Autism spectrum do not usually reach the levels of violence that the shooter at Newtown achieved. However, the paranoid schizophrenics out there certainly can! A problem for years with American society has been that anyone with neurological issues of any sort is looked upon as different and possibly dangerous. So….I would suggest that instead of the political grandstanding about guns, let us make some substantive changes to the health care system, and, as President Obama said the other day, make it as easy to get help for one’s neurological issues as it is to buy a gun.
As for the issues surrounding companion animals… There are some simple things that each of us can to to help. We can donate funds to “no kill” shelters, and, let the “kill” shelters know that is happening. We can donate funds to “kill” shelters, whose goal is to become a “no Kill” shelter. We can have our companion animals neutered. This process, by the by, is a good thing for them, as studies have shown many benefits in terms of health and longevity in neutered animals. If we have strays around our house, make friends with them, and then capture them and have them neutered too. You do not have to keep them, you can let them go back out into the wild, once they are neutered…although I, personally, tend to end up giving them a good home until they die of old age. If your friends indicate they cannot deal with their companion animal any longer,then, offer to either take it for yourself, or, get it into a good family. There are many rescue groups that transport unwanted animals all over the country, in order to get them to a “forever home”, at no charge. Basically, treat these small lives as you would treat your children or your self.
We cannot save them all, but to do nothing betrays the quote from Christ that is the title of this piece.