Lessons in Humility
I’ve recently been humbled and have been forced to admit defeat. I never expected it to happen in this area. After all, if there was one moral area I was pretty sure I excelled at, it was in the area of treating animals well.*
Whenever I’d go to a foreign country, I would be the one to kneel down and pet the stray skinny dogs. I was the one who would get teary when I’d see dogs living their lives in tiny confined areas. I was the one who would wrinkle my nose in distaste when I’d see dogs with their tails or ears cropped. Or silently judge others who got their pets from stores and breeders while tens of thousands of nice dogs in shelters were euthanized for want of a home. How I leveled mental vitriol at people who didn’t treat their pets according to my standards.
Well, I’ve learned my lesson. Eliza, the half beagle, half devil, has defeated me. This Saturday I’ll be taking her to a vet to get debarked – a procedure that is questionably humane. I never thought I would ever consider such a course. It makes me sick with distaste when I think about it, but what choice do I have, I ask myself. The neighbors are annoyed and upset by her constant barking. Bark collars, time outs, yelling at her, shutting her up inside the house – nothing works. Her horrible bark can penetrate any barrier.
I rationalize my decision by telling myself that anyone else would have gotten rid of her long ago. (Barking is only one of her problems – biting is another.) And that she’ll be happier once she’s allowed to go in the backyard again. But still, I can’t believe it’s come to this. For the first time I understand how a person could be driven to give away their dog or dump it off at the shelter.
Anyway, the whole Eliza experience has been an exercise in humility. Sometimes love and kindness aren’t enough to get an animal to behave, I now know. Sometimes it takes some tough, morally questionable tactics to be able to coexist.. I sure learned my lesson about judging others when I don’t know the full situation.
What about you? What lessons in humility have you learned? Have you ever had a tough experience that has forced you to reconfigure your world view and realize that you really don’t have the moral high ground to stand on?
*full disclosure; I have a horrible meat eating habit which I’ve tried to break.