Teen tied family dog to tree, killed pet with sword.
I sobbed. I couldn’t read the article that followed. All that day the headline haunted me. It stayed with me over the holidays. I kept seeing the unsuspecting dog ready to trust and give unending love happily accompanying the teenager to the tree. To be executed.
I felt compelled to write about it. But not right away. That’s not a story I wished to put in anyone’s mind but my own as so many joyous holidays were in the offing. It could wait until the new year. Until now.
I knew I would have to read the article and the next day I summoned the strength to do so. The mother and stepfather had called the police, saying they wanted to press charges. They said the boy had shown “a progression of violence” and were fearful for the safety of other children and animals in their home. The police report said the dog had experienced “a very inhumane and cruel death.”
Why didn’t the parents do something earlier?
I don’t know why this story affected me so much. After all, I’ve become inured to the cruelties we humans inflict. This has been going on for millennia. Just think about the evils that have impacted our own lives.
Slavery, Jim Crow, and chronic racism.
Hunting for sport as opposed to food.
Murder following a minor road mishap.
Making a boy who killed protestors a hero.
I’m sick of it all. I realize there is no way to prevent all such calamities, but I can’t help but wonder if we haven’t sunk as a society to a depth never before seen. Have we developed a mindset where concern for life has plummeted, where the sanctity and amazement of life is unimportant?
I know there are gangs and criminal organizations which will kill without blinking an eye. Terrible as they are, they are not the ones I’m thinking of. I’m talking about the evil that exists in those whom we think of as our neighbors, about whom one never would predict their cruelty.
The evil that has resulted from ever looser gun laws that allow anyone to become a killing machine.
The evil that social media creates to spew the latest incendiary trash.
The evil parents teach their kids when they threaten and physically attack school board members.
The evil that follows when compromise is a dirty word.
So, with all these terrible treatments of humans, why did the dog’s murder bother me so much whereas I can read about a shooting without breaking up?
I think it’s that the dog is the most innocent of creatures, the most giving and loving of creatures. Perhaps in my mind he represents all the innocent victims of the world.
I’m convinced that the cruelties I’m discussing are more frequent now than ever before in my life. I think our collective mindset has to change. I think we should learn to offer the love that the dog would have.
We have to rise. We cannot sink lower. Nor can we stay at the depths we currently inhabit.
Or we are doomed.