moral outrage and peripatetic dogs

Here’s an issue for you, and I mean it seriously. You obviously need not respond, but it bears some reflection:

I can write about the criminality of car companies avoiding responsibility for near fatal crashes, and I hear almost nothing. I can write about a war that is maiming young children and leaving them homeless, and I hear nary a peep. But write about a dog that runs free and the floodgates open.

Why is this? Are we touched only by those things that brush against our own reality in a palpable way? Do we despair of having an effect on issues that are too large and abstract for us to feel any responsibility for change, and thus feel them less keenly? Or is it something altogether different?

Any of you have any thoughts you want to share?

11 thoughts on “moral outrage and peripatetic dogs”

  1. Maybe the pain is so intense that most people choose to deny it. They feel so powerless to change the hell unleashed around them that they would rather deny the hell then feel the loss of power.

    Your dog gives them back the lost power… a dog they can control…

    If only they would realize how powerful they truly are…

  2. I agree with Tony that we are far more powerful than we realize but I wholeheartedly disagree that the pain is so intense most people choose to deny it. I think we are living in an age of disgusting indifference when people rather shop or watch TV or look the other way or plop down on their sofas or play video games or watch porn on the Net than genuinely care about each other if it means having to sacrifice anything. Most Americans couldn’t even point out Iraq on a map if asked to let alone list their own senators, congressmen, mayor, and local reps. I think most Americans are “sad” at what is happening in Iraq but enough to do something really to stop this monstrous abuse of power by the Bush Administration? Absolutely not. I’m more ashamed every day to be an American.

  3. Sharyn McCormick

    Kent, I haven’t checked your website for a few days because you write so seldom that I am a little behind. I had exactly the same thought at the time you wrote your blog about dogs running free, it did open the floodgates. It seems that a lot of us are very passionate about our pets. I agree with your observation about despairing of having an effect on issues that are perhaps too large, although I must disagree with abstract. Individually we are a minor cog in the wheel, especially when it comes to Corporate America who will do exactly as they please. However, I think multitudes have spoken out against this war that no one is going to win and countless lives have been lost so unnecessarily on both sides and who is listening? Certainly not the “cowboy” in the White House who is nothing more than a little ego manic with an inferiority complex who is also going to do exactly as he pleases.

    I think our pets are something we have control over as Pete said and they invoke a fierce sense of determination and passion within us. You could write about children, which you have, or the elderly and not awaken the intensity within us as writing about our pets. They listen to us, don’t talk back, are non-judgmental, don’t care what we look like, always forgive us,and are always there for us no matter what. Who else can we say that about?

    I think you should look at that particular blog from another perspective. You shared some personal and intimate moments of your life with your readers that you haven’t shared in your other blogs. And, judging from the comments you have received thus far as to whether you should continue blogging, it sounds like your readers would very much like to get to know the man behind the books. I personally thought that blog showed an entirely different side of you. You shared an element of indecision as to whether you were doing the right thing in letting your dog run free and you haven’t done that before.

    I agree with the first comment you received to your previous blog, how much time does it take to write something once a week? Don’t look at it as a “chore” or one more thing that has to be done. Look at it as just sharing your thoughts as if you were writing in a journal and as a way for your readers to get to know you as a person on a more intimate level.

    With warmest regards,


  4. There was a message written on a white board by some troops in Baghdad. It reads:

    America is not at war.
    The Marine Corps is at war;
    America is at the mall.

    That about summed it up for me.

    We need to take the log out of our own eye, before we try to pick the speck out of the eye of our President.

  5. This all made me think about Darfur.

    Let me go back. Two of my teenage granddaughters have been to Auschwitz & other camps because we want to make sure they know about the Holocaust. I show Miss Evers’ Boys in one of my classes so people will know about the Tuskegee Experiment. I watch Hotel Rwanda and am shocked. All of these were in the past, and now all I can is shake my head with disgust and sadness.

    I see film clips about Darfur on the news.

    I get up, get a glass of water, and switch the channel.

    It seems that we are disconnected from all but the issues that touch our daily lives. We seem to tune out the rest.

  6. Nerb:
    People find it so hard to put in words the atrocities of current times, to appropriately deal with all the feelings surrounding the mess that humanity has caused with this beautiful world we were given to protect – its easier to vent about something else instead of having to face the larger issues and terrors that are a little farther away than a dog can run…
    I appreciate you bringing it all to light here, at least to get everyone thinking about the looming changes, if not talking about them. I’m always listening.

  7. Perhaps it is the human condition that only when an issue is something we can relate to – do we feel we can DO something about it. Or feel we have enough knowledge to speak out for or against matters. Perhaps we need only to realize that anything…ANYTHING we can do to help allieviate suffering on any scale has an effect overall. I hope this makes sense…

  8. When I read this post it immediately brought to mind the woman in front of me in the checkout line at the grocery store today. She had a carton of cigarettes, a liter of whiskey and a Star magazine. People are tuning out. They choose to be distracted. It is sad when more people know about Brad and Angelina than they do about what is happening in the Iraq, or Iran, or North Korea, or China, or Darfur. We live our lives of comfort and feel that life has always been and will always be just as it is today. We underestimate the power of each individual. We allow ourselves to be distracted while others make the decisions we should be involved in. We underestimate the power of our spending so we continue to buy foreign goods and frequent Walmart. Ask your coworkers who any prominent politician is in DC right now. ASk them what Hilary or Obama or Giuliani plans to do if elected. I find it a rarity when anyone has a clue or can intelligently discuss these things. We need to tune in.

  9. Kent, I missed the blog about dogs running free. I live next door to Natives who have three dogs tied to big chains 24/7 and it breaks my heart. they are neglected except for daily water and food rations, a life without parole. They cannot run free in an unfenced yard next to a major highway, but sometimes I wish they could take their chances. Any thoughts on how to live with this situation? thank you Janet Gray

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