As I walked through the bedroom, something caught my eye in the corner of the room. My dog’s bed had two bodies in it. I only own one dog– Chaz. Chaz had taken over my daughter’s hand-me-down Great Dane bed. His small 18 pound body was curled in one corner. My 16 pound kitty, Hollywood, was curled in the other one. They were color coordinated and separated by a red blanket.
As I paused, two sleepy heads opened their eyes as if they questioned my curiosity. It was obvious that a cat and a dog sharing a bed wasn’t a normal scenario to me. For them – no problem. This paled in comparison to the lion and lamb symbol of peace. But it did speak volumes to tolerating each other’s differences.
In the wake of the 2012 Presidential campaign, differences and opinions saturated all media platforms. Television, newspapers, bumper stickers… social media. The American Pie was dissected and wedged by political party lines, special or personal interests, among other things. Voices and words rang in loud decibels. Anything and everything was heaped on the sacrificial political altar. By the end of November, it was clear that the country was divided by groups that thrived on anger and finger pointing.
I was raised in a social environment that appeared to hold certain traditions sacred. The moral compass that once trained my right and wrong choices seems to spin out of control under the banner of individual freedom. Violence saturates our culture, from childhood video games to domestic fist fights. Leadership delays offending selfishly motivated groups in lieu of a poll. We’ve lost the lead in leadership.
So, as I watched my dog share his bed with Hollywood, I have to admire the civility, in spite of their differences. I reflect on past American communities that need not be fractured by labels such as dog or cat. Gay or straight. Christian or Jewish. I choose to honor the melting pot of our diverse ethnic country. But I also take responsibility for my choices. My hands embrace work—not reaching for a government check. As the post-election voices quiet, I pray it isn’t too late to recover the civil society that we enjoyed. We need to pull together and pull our weight instead of lapsing into complacency.
“A society begins with us, it must not end with us,” said John Gardner.
Good job, Chaz and Hollywood.