By now, if you follow Twitter, you’ve seen the massive trend #JeSuisChien.
For those who don’t know, it honors a French police dog named Diesel who perished in this week’s raid on a terrorist cell in the wake of the Islamic State attack on Friday the 13th in Paris.
What you might not have seen is the somewhat feeble backlash. There have been those who question the ‘morality’ of the outpouring of grief on a dog’s behalf when no such phenomenon accompanied the deaths of individual humans. And there have been some who openly laugh at how twisted they believe the world to be when an animal is honored above men.
My first, gut reaction to these backlashers was anger, because their opinions don’t mesh with my own. But after the initial emotional glitch, I had to give their words some thought. They are opinions after all, and have every right to be voiced.
So…why does the death of a police dog elicit such a deep welling of pure sorrow? Why does the death of a human make my heart sore for a moment, but that of an animal sticks with me and shatters that same heart in a howl of grief?
Well…I’ve never been mugged by a dog, but I have by a man. A dog has never jumped out of the shadows with a knife and stabbed me. A man has. A dog has never broken into my apartment. A man has.
But that’s not enough of a reason.
When a dog misbehaves, I can usually understand why. Not so with humans. Mankind is capable of a depth of depravity unequaled by other denizens of the animal kingdom.
Man is the only creature capable of true cruelty. Animals don’t have it in them.
Some people will say cats are cruel…the way they play with a mouse instead of killing it outright. That’s instinct. Mankind’s cruelty is by choice.
There’s a tremendous difference.
So, as unbalanced as it may seem to some, I will continue to be more deeply affected by the death of a dog than seems appropriate. I will trust animals more readily than humans. I will welcome a dog into my life more quickly and wholeheartedly than a person who must earn my trust over time.
And even though it was started a bit tongue-in-cheek, I am touched by #JeSuisChien and the gallant animal whose demise it honors. Because just as cruelty abounds in humans more than any other member of the animal kingdom, the opposite is true of nobility.
Dogs have it in spades. Precious few humans do.