Written just before the 2004 Presidential election, this was revised to be more current.
Sometimes we just have to make difficult choices. And often, they’re not between right and wrong, but between the lesser of evils. Such was my dilemma this morning as I walked our dog.
Travis is a great dog, a melting pot of pedigrees, and very much a creature of habit. He lives for his morning walks with his dad, and hesitates to go out of the house without his leash. His exercise routine consists of walk, sniff, walk, sniff, leg lift, walk, sniff, leg lift…, and ends with a carefully considered fertilization of our pachysandra bed, which thrives on his daily contributions.
So, imagine my surprise and horror when, halfway through the walk, he suddenly stopped in front of one of my neighbor’s homes, and proudly presented a gift that they would surely remember. My first reaction, of course, was to look around and see if there were any witnesses. Then, my conscience took over, and I thought of the consequences if this roadside bomb got into the wrong hands or feet.
Completely unprepared, I was up the street without a shovel, if you will. I looked around for a solution, and spied an advertising newspaper in a bag in front of another neighbor’s home. And now the dilemma: do I violate the pooper scooper laws, or do I steal the bag. Even though the “No Pile Left Behind” laws are underfunded and underenforced, I believe in them. Assuming that the advertising newspaper was not something that Nick and Susan looked forward to anyway, I liberated it from the bag and left the paper at their mailbox.
Now, for Travis’s part, he was quite bewildered by my intervention. I won’t soon forget his look of righteous indignation, since he was only doing what dogs do. His eyes betrayed his question, “What gives you the right to make my business your business?” It never occurred to me that I may have violated his rights. But he’ll just have to get over it, and maybe learn that keeping the peace in the neighborhood is everyone’s business.
I wonder how Congress would have dealt with this matter. I guess the Republicans would have denied responsibility and blamed it on another dog, while at the same time beginning to take action, and the Democrats would have carefully studied their options, while filibustering to keep the resolution from coming to a vote. The Republicans, if the President felt it was unfinished business, would have found the biggest, baddest bulldozer in the land, emblazoned it with the Presidential Seal, excavated half the neighborhood and beamed as they declared, “Mission Accomplished!” Then they would have contracted with Halliburton for the endless reconstruction effort and feeding the army of people required to justify the cost of the project, and then defended the resulting increase to the budget deficit as a national priority. The Democrats, on the other hand, might have deferred action to examine Travis’s motives and build a coalition, while at the same time reassuring everyone with, “We have a plan!”
Some choices are harder to make than others. Only history can judge whether our physical and financial security is better under a man with a plan or a dude with a ‘tude, and the history books won’t be written for awhile. Stealing the bag was an easy choice, since it’s better and less embarrassing to ask for forgiveness now rather than to have asked for permission in the first place. So, Nick and Susan, please forgive me for stealing the bag. And Travis, thanks for giving me something to think about while walking the half-mile back home, bag-in-hand. I get it now – it was really a gift for me! How thoughtful!