This I Believe

J - Springfield, Virginia
Entered on August 8, 2006
Age Group: 30 - 50
Themes: respect

Cooper is the family dog. He is a wild-child that routinely engages in the art of selective listening. The other day I let him in the house from the sweltering heat outside so he could get a drink of water and relax. He always gorges himself on the H2O after a long day in the summer heat. He does so to the extent of his own discomfort. After getting his fill he walked into the family room with a funny look on his face. I knew he had overdone the water consumption so I yelled, “don’t you dare puke on the floor”! He looked right at me as if to say, “mind your own business”, and promptly spewed on the hardwood. I laughed profusely as I reflected on how much like the rest of us young Cooper is.

Some might say the world is in turmoil. I believe the perpetual exercising of our individual and collective agency as human beings is the culprit. We are all overdoing our consumption in one form or another and puking on someone’s floor while they watch quizzically. The manifestation of this truth comes in the form of war, famine, disease, murder, corruption, divorce, and a whole host of other calamities that all find their roots in the agency of man. Did I happen to mention that this is a good thing?

I believe that individual agency is necessary and fundamental to all that is good. However one chooses to categorize someone else’s choice to act – or not, the inherent ability to choose for oneself is a divine gift. Agency possesses all the requisite components that bring happiness, success, fortune, and yes, even peace. The problems arise from a persistent unwillingness to accept the agency of others. It is the ubiquitous attempts to control, limit, influence, or inhibit agency that ultimately results in conflict.

I do not advocate total freedom and anarchy. If someone’s agency threatens my family, friends, community, or country, I have no problem exercising mine in kind and neutralizing the threat. There must however, be self-restraint at times for the sake of the many in lieu of the few. We are all on this earth together at the same time in history and can’t turn a blind eye to that reality. I do believe that much more can be done to respect each other’s choices, whether you agree with them or not. Honor and charity are the missing variables in the agency equation of today and for that matter, our history.

As I think back over the last four decades of my life it is the exercising of my own agency and my responses to others doing the same thing which has brought me my highest highs and my lowest lows. At the end of the day the choices have always resided with me.

Now each time Cooper waltzes into the room and gives me that look, I pause, swallow my pride, and seize the opportunity to be dog’s best friend.