I'll get to this guy in a minute. First, let me tell you that I've reached a point in my life where I realize that there's no way to question some things without sounding terribly judgmental. AND, I hate being judgmental. Have worked diligently and hard to stop that trait. I don't like it; not in others, but certainly not in me...and 'me' is all I can control. So I stand guard against this natural, Human tendency.
Case in point, the other day Michael and I were driving past a home in our area. It's a very modest home. Very. It's not well kept. There's generally a dog tied at the front door and it actually sits, butt on one step, legs hanging down and touching the next step, very much like a person. The dog sits and watches the traffic go by. It doesn't look hungry or abused. To me, it seems sad. But, I digress...
This is about the house. Nanny, the World's Meanest Woman used to say, "It costs nothing to be clean. Soap and water are almost free." Her point was, that no matter who you are, how much you own or have, how poor you might be, there was no reason to NOT take care of what you have. No reason to be anything other than clean, neat, tidy. She should know, she grew up in a town in Italy that was made of dirt and not much more. She was one of the cleanest women I know.
I'm still digressing, but hang with me...because my grandmother's words have always stuck. And, it became a value of mine that resonates through how I see myself, my home, my possessions. They will fall into disarray at times, but I always find the urge to pull them back into order. Eventually. If I'm lucky enough to own it, I must be willing to take care of it.
So getting back to that house, I've often wondered why people want to own something but don't want to take care of it. At least, keep it looking neat. Just idle curiosity on my part. But, the other day, we go by the house and see a huge trailer in front of it behind a pickup truck...and out of it they are unloading three, count them three, equally huge ATV's all muddy and caked with crud. They're laughing and having a great time; dog watching wagging his tail. And, a question immediately flashed in my mind so I asked Michael what he thought....
And I was conflicted the entire time because I knew there was no way to simply wonder about what I was seeing without sounding incredibly judgmental...but I just had to ask..."I know this is going to sound like I'm judging them, but honestly I'm not, I'm simply curious- Don't you wonder about some people's values? I mean, those things are incredibly expensive and they have those, the rig to haul them around in, and the truck to pull it, all the while living in what appears to be a shit-box? Why do people do that??!"
My Lion answered, "I have no idea. I guess different people like different things and expect different things from their lives. And, you're right, it does sound very judgmental." God love him, I know he's right. I'm conflicted...
Is there a way, do you suppose, to have basic curiosity about something or someone without sounding like you feel you're in the superior position of knowledge and the bastion of good taste? I think there must be a way, but honest to god, I don't know what it is.
Which finally brings me to that smiling guy up there at the top of this rant. You know who he is...it's Michael Vick. Look at that face would you? He is a handsome Human Being. What a smile! And, how blessed is he to have landed in pro ball! Imagine throwing that charmed life right down the crapper by turning out to be a heartless, gutless, effin' cruel bastard. Ruining your good name! Now, that wasn't a judgment; that's pretty much a fact. Michael Vick- Dog fighting King Pin, supporter of cruelty, illegal betting, making money off of the death and destruction of innocent animals. Animals who don't know what more to do, than do what they're made to do. THAT GUY! That Michael Vick...
Who wanted more because his pro football salary wasn't enough?! Did that sort of trash? Yes. Look at him. You really need to see him. I need to look closely. Because I don't know him. Neither do you. We only know what we learned about him. We only know that slice of him. We DON'T know him. But, we want to hold onto what we do know; or think we know.
Now, look at the face of the dog...isn't it wonderful? Even if Pit Bulls scare the crap out of you...look at the animal and think of that face in a pit with another dog. With men standing around yelling and betting and watching one get destroyed. Hoping it's the other guy's dog and not yours...but even if it is yours, what the hell, you can always get another one. Feed it gun powder, keep it chained, make it mean, vicious...you can always get another one.
So, here's where I get conflicted- even more conflicted. Michael Vick has served two years in prison and was released recently to finish out his sentence under house arrest. By all accounts he was a model prisoner. He did his time. He made his apologies. He's served his sentence. And, I believe that once a debt to society is paid, one should be allowed to move on with a life. But, I'm a bit apprehensive that this guy might just end up back in the gold mine of playing pro ball. Should he be able to do that? Should he get those sorts of rewards? Perhaps. Especially if playing ball is all that he knows; if being an athlete is his only means to effectively make a living.
Here's the thing: I believe that when you have that sort of prestige and celebrity, whether you like it or not, you are signing on to be a role model. You sit in a place of being able to influence society for the better. You have a responsibility to teach through example. The whole, "To whom much is given, much is expected," notion. And, I'm wondering if a dog killing thug like that guy should be allowed to return to such a public position and make that sort of money. I JUST DON'T KNOW what to think...
So let's add to the confusion further...take a look at this guy. This is the president and CEO of the Humane Society of The United States.
This is, Wayne Pacelle, and not too long ago he was contacted by Michael Vick who says he wants to begin working with them to campaign against dog fighting. And, this national organization is going to take him up on the offer. Confusing, isn't it? Michael Vick going to become the poster child against the crime of Dog Fighting...
Now, I have been an excellent Public Relations professional for a lot of years and I can tell you that part of me thinks this is an absolutely brilliant idea in terms of garnering attention and buzz. But, I'm not certain that everyone will be a supporter of the HSUS's notion. Especially animal rights activists, who in my opinion, have a tendency to see things in black and white absolutes. Also, these sorts of people self-righteously believe they hold the truth. And once a mind gets locked like that, it can become pretty deadly in terms of thinking new thoughts. Yes, there's another judgment, but so be it.
So, Wayne here, is taking quite a risk in joining forces with Mr. Vick. And as a Human Being, I'm conflicted further in that, I have no trust that Vick isn't doing this as a grand PR stunt. I have no way of confirming that he now sees what he did as a life changing mistake. Or if he's doing it just to weasel his way back into society's good graces...I have no way of knowing.
And, I am conflicted.
Does he really understand that what he was involved in was wrong and cruel? Even if he was raised around it and didn't know better before he got busted...does he know better now? Does he even care that it was wrong, or does he simply care that it cost him his goods, his life, his freedom for a time? How do we know?
We don't know. Can't know. We can only sit back and judge for ourselves. But, I don't want to judge this guy. I don't know him. He's not going to come to my house and eat a sandwich with me. He's not going to meet Rory & Fiona and pet them. He's just some guy in the public eye who did some truly shitty things.
So, if I don't know why he'd think that was all right in the first place, I surely can't say that he's genuinely sorry that he did them. Or, if he's simply sorry he got caught. I don't know. Neither do you.
I've known one Pit Bull in my life. I miss her. She is my former neighbor's dog...her name is Samantha. We called her Sammy. A shelter rescue dog. Sam, would trot soundlessly through the pines bordering our properties anytime she was out and heard a car come down my driveway. She'd wiggle up to the car, tale wagging, big Pit Bull grin on her massive face. Very slowly strolling toward the car. I found that this turned out to be generally disconcerting to the visitor until they got to know her.
It took me a bit to understand it...to me she was Sweet Sam, and I'd never once seen her be aggressive to anything or anyone. Just wasn't in her. But, she was a victim of some really bad PR...like all of her kind. One time a visitor asked in a whisper, hoping I guess that Sam wouldn't hear, with a note of fear whisper, "Umm, Holly isn't that a Pit Bull?!!" And, as I laid my hand on her broad black head while she smiled up at them, I whispered back, "Umm, yeah, but she doesn't know she's a Pit Bull and we haven't told her, so you're safe."
She was just our Sweet Sam. I really liked her and wanted them to like her, too. I didn't want her judged because of mass hysteria caused by things people read or thought they knew about the breed. And, if I didn't want that for Samantha, don't I owe the very same, if not more, to a Human Being? Don't I owe that to Michael Vick? Even if I don't like it? Even if it's really hard?
I only have questions, no answers today. I told you, I'm very, very conflicted.
Namaste' Till Next Time,
Holly aka Samantha's Former Neighbor
All images in today's posting are courtesy of the Internet...
5 hours ago