When I was growing up, I had a dachshund named Peanut. Peanut was my first dog, I got him when I was two years old, and he stayed with us until I was in high school, so he was with me through most of the time I was figuring myself out.
Peanut was around to comfort me in the busy school days and to enjoy with me the lazy summer days. He was with me as I thought and dreamed and wondered. As any child, I often dreamed of different things I could be when I grew up. Paleontologist was the front runner for a long time, but even in those days there would be moments when, while sitting with Peanut, I began to wish I could just be a dog.
From my perspective, Peanut had an easy life. He got to sleep whenever he wanted (I really liked sleep back then), he didn’t have to do any homework, and he got treats pretty regularly (my mom spoils all her dogs).
It was a no-brainer to me – the ultimate dream was to be a dog and live the carefree dog life.
I don’t have many lazy summer days anymore, but when I get a chance to watch Max resting by the window, it takes me back to those childhood dreams. Especially when so much crap is happening all around the world and we seem to keep circling around hate as if it were our tail that we are chasing, I begin to wish that I could be a dog, curled up by the window, carefree and ignorant of all the problems that still suffocate our world.
Being a dog would be such a beautiful escape.
And I feel that way as a privileged white man, who for all purposes does have the ability to escape all the craziness. I can choose not to be bothered with it. That reality in itself is a big part of the crappiness, and I try my best to address it head on and not shy away from it.
I cannot know what it is like in other people’s shoes, but I do trust the voices who cry out because they cannot escape the oppression, they cannot simply walk away or ignore the structural racism and sexism and all other evils that make up our society.
And yet I cannot shake the desire to just escape it all. I cannot deny the inclination to ignore it all like a dog.
But Max teaches me that such escapism is not an option. He reminds me that I am one with the ability to walk out the door, I am one with the responsibility to interact with that society I sometimes don’t want to be a part of, I am one with words and actions that can really make a difference in small or larger contexts.
And so if I just sit at the window watching the world go by, my inaction would make me complicit in the problems. Even if I sit there and sigh at what I see, I am not making anything better until I escape the escapism that nags at my tepid mind.
Max has taught me that I am one who can speak out against the hate, or be complicit it in, but I am not one who should escape it. Max may have that right, but I do not.
So thank you Max, for teaching me that as tempting as it looks, I should not escape into the carefree life you live. Thank you for reminding me about my responsibility to speak up and act out in this crazy world.