Anyway, that was how I felt almost every day last week when I logged on to social media. Two different topics seemed to dominate the discussion and I took the bait and absolutely weighed in with my opinion. Because, you know, I needed more online cat-fighting in my life.
The next debate I engaged in was one that makes me stabby on so many levels: barking dogs. On a support page for the post housing community in which we currently reside, there were several threads discussing dogs barking this week. On one side were people complaining that their neighbors let their dogs bark for hours on end, and on the other side were people complaining that their neighbors were calling to report their dogs barking for hours on end instead of being an “adult” and confronting them with the problem first.
By the end of the week I was left wondering what in the world had ever happened to common sense. I questioned where we, as a civilization, had gone wrong if none of us seemed to care how our actions or behaviors affected those around us. On a Facebook post I suggested that basic decency and consideration for our neighbors might be a concept we all (myself included) needed to revisit. My dear friend responded to the discussion that ensued with the following words:
“This is why we can’t have nice things.”
We have it all here in America, truly. No where else in the world do individuals have more freedoms and opportunity. Sure, there are exceptions to that very blanket statement, but as a whole, we have a lot of stuff to be thankful for when it comes to the ability to make our own choices and live our lives in the manner we choose. And somewhere along the line I am starting to believe that we began taking advantage of that incredible choice. That we forgot we are still sharing our neighborhoods, our country, and our planet with other human beings.
The Halloween display: Come on. Sure, that family had the right to put it up. But that does not mean that it is okay. We can go round and round and round arguing that he never intended for it to be racially motivated or that it was just copying a scene from a movie. But there is a huge difference between fake skeletons, ghosts, spooky music… and that scene. There is no reason for any parent to have to explain that scene to their small child. None.
I make no secret about my hatred of Halloween, (“Is Halloween Over Yet? Please?”), but I deal with the ghosts and goblins, etc. this time of year. It’s not forever, I tell myself, and I am sure that my cheery displays at Christmas give someone in my neighborhood an eye-roll headache on occasion. But, it boggles my mind that anyone could defend this particular Halloween display. It takes the line, crosses it, and sells tee-shirts.
Take race completely out of the equation, and it is still disgusting and offensive. Someone asked me if I would have a problem with a crucifix in my neighbors yard. Actually, I would. I am not talking about a cross. I am talking about the depiction of a human being nailed to a cross. If it were in my neighborhood I would object to it. Not for any religious reasons… but because I will never understand displaying death and torture for the kindergartners to see when they get off the school bus every afternoon.
But the reality is that you can’t just take race out of this topic. Lynchings are a horrifying part of our Nation’s history and we should not just forget about it. That doesn’t mean we have to dwell on it every minute of the day… but we should recognize the mistakes we have made in the past as a country, and be committed to not repeating them. When you know better you do better… but only if you don’t forget the lesson.
Just because you CAN do something, doesn’t mean that you should. And if people get upset because you act irresponsibly and do something that is detrimental to others and is downright offensive… then it really stinks if you (or others for that matter) fight back by saying you had a right to be a jerk and the complainers are just being sticks in the mud. How about we just admit it was in poor taste and move on?
That leaves us with the barking dogs situation. I will go ahead and tell you that I can not STAND hearing dogs bark in my neighborhood. I don’t care what time of the day it is. We have a dog. If she barks I immediately go and make her come inside because it is annoying and disrespectful to others, but also because the noise makes me nuts. Noises that I can not control really affect me, and for the longest time I just thought I was losing my mind. But noise sensitivity is a real thing. As someone who already battles anxiety… a barking dog is a real problem for me.
According to the discussion (and several others I have engaged in about this particular subject), I should just “deal” with the noise because dogs will be dogs and, especially if it is during the day, it is not fair to expect people to keep their dogs inside or train them not to bark. I was told, on more than one occasion, that if I didn’t like it then I should go over and talk to my neighbors about it. That it was MY responsibility to be a friendly neighbor and let them know that it was bothering me before calling the housing office to report the noise disturbance. It was even suggested to me that if it bothered me, I should take the time to train said dog not to bark.
Let me just re-cap it for you. If a barking dog bothers me, it is MY responsibility as the NON-OWNER of the pet, to either leave my bedroom where I am not able to sleep, or to interrupt my work day, so that I can go ask an ADULT to be a responsible pet owner. I should do this so as not to make life harder for them by making a report. That it is being a disrespectful neighbor to report a violation of the housing agreement that is directly affecting my life because they might get a warning, fine or be asked to leave housing. And really, that if it bothers me that much, I should fork out my own money for a training class or spend countless hours being the neighborhood Cesar Milan.
Please tell me I am not the only person who thinks that is just plain asinine.
Let me be clear. I have great neighbors and don’t have a problem with their dogs, and if one was left out and was barking I would feel 100% comfortable going to them and finding out what was up… because it is not the norm. But that has not always been the case. Sometimes in life we have neighbors who we just do NOT get along with, and that is okay. If I already have a strained or non-existent relationship with a neighbor, why should I be forced to stress over figuring out a non-confrontational way to tell another ADULT that their dog is barking for 4 straight hours? They can hear the dog barking. It is their responsibility to make sure the dog is not being a nuisance to others around them, not mine.
As much as I hate the gruesome Halloween displays or the constant yapping of a pet… what bothers me most about both of these issues is the “Me, Me, ME!!!” mentality that seems to be more common with every passing year. Our individual liberties and rights are important… but I do not believe that getting what I want is so important that someone else is negatively impacted. Sure, you are never going to be able to please everyone… and I am not suggesting that we should spend all of our time obsessing over how our actions affect every other person in the world.
All I am asking is that we use a little bit of common sense and think of others more often… so that we can have nice things. Like thriving neighborhoods where we all, dog owners and anxiety-ridden moms who hate Halloween alike, can live in peace. Shoot… if we can all agree to not display murder on our lawns and keep our dogs from howling at the moon, I will suck it up and actually put on a costume next year. I hear Wal-mart will be selling an adult-sized Dog Whisperer.
Do we have a deal?