Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The Hero Dog - It's About Taking the Time to Have Someone's Back

I know that it's so much easier to think about helping others when you have some extra. Be it time or money. It's normal. First let me get myself set up and then my house will be in order and THEN I'll have some "extra" for those around me. And I really want to clarify that I am not making anyone wrong for thinking this way. But since very little is ever black and white in this world, I was struck how sometimes self regard is all but thrown out the window for another especially after re-viewing this video.

I watched it again yesterday and realized for the first time that this Hero Dog - was "without" in as many ways as the dog struck down. This Hero Dog - was a stray - he wouldn't have been there in the first place if he had a home and owners who cared for him. He was on his own and still found himself risking all for another that he technically had no connection to at least in the way some folks would view it.

It reminded me of the experiment Malcolm Gladwell referenced in the Tipping Point. In this study, students at a Presbyterian theological seminary were asked to prepare a short talk on a biblical theme, then walk over to a nearby building to present it. “Along the way to the presentation, each student ran into a man slumped in an alley, head down, eyes closed, coughing and groaning. The question was, who would stop and help?” There were three variables measured in the experiment: the reason those students were studying theology in the first place, the topic they’d been asked to prepare, and the time they thought they had to get from one building to the next, to give their talk. Who stopped to help the man in trouble? Most people guess that the students who were entering the ministry to help people would stop . . . or that students who were on their way to speak about the Parable of the Good Samaritan (!) would stop. In fact, the study showed that only thing that mattered was whether the student was in a rush. 90 percent of the students who’d been told they were late ignored the man in trouble and went on their way. Of the group who knew they had time to spare, 63 percent stopped.*

Now those who didn't stop weren't "bad" or "wrong" in any way. But it is a place to look and get curious. What is it that we are all rushing to? What is it we are all really here for? What does it take to stop and really see what's important?

Every time we step out our door, every day -we take a risk. And it's so easy to not make it back to the place we started from in the morning, we all know that. Are we only here to walk out the front door and walk back in? I think not.

Thanks to this video this morning, I found myself in a conversation with a man I probably wouldn't have been in a conversation with under normal circumstances. We were both from different worlds, dare I say different castes (because really who are we kidding - we all know damn well that like it or not, we do seem to have that horrible system here even if we denounce it - we have the tendency to stay "within" our types. Be it race, ethnicity, gender, financial, or age. )

He started to lose his balance on the subway and I went to grab his over sized jacket to steady him from falling. Now I like to think that I would have done this regardless of this video and yet who knows! We both nervously laughed afterward and then I told him how I had just watched this video this morning and thought to myself, I think I'm being trumped by a doggie. And I don't like that! Stopping him from falling seemed to fall way short of what I had just witnessed a little dog do. We both spoke about how brave this dog was and how we both were unsure if we would have had the courage to have done it ourselves. He said he would look for the clip on You Tube when he got home later. And I swear every one around us was going to as well! We had a bit of a captive audience, these two people with nothing seemingly in common. It was a good subway ride! Not only for me and him but for everyone around us!

Yes, a dog is teaching me. And that's fine by me. I'm listening.

PS Keep in mind he isn't using his teeth - he is using his two front paws to drag him with.

(* from the Tipping Point) (#14 of 100 Blog Postings in 100 Day's Challenge)

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