I was sitting on the sofa petting my dog. It had been a bad day, and I was thinking how much better I felt stroking his fur and feeling his warm puppy breath on my leg. It had been a bad day. As a lawyer, I often witness man’s inhumanity to man. When I was a prosecutor, I thought I saw the depth of cruelty when I investigated and brought to trial murders, child molestations, shootings, and other horrible things. I was wrong. Most crimes are crimes of opportunity, passion, or borne of mental illness or drug addiction. Criminals don’t sit up at night dreaming of the nasty things they can do to people the way people going through divorces do. And they don’t say ugly things about one another the way people who disagree about politics do.
As I scratched my doggy behind the ear, I thought about how both the thief and the victim, the ex-husband and ex-wife, and the republican and democrat would all agree that my puppy was adorable. Every last one of them would be horrified by anyone who would kick my puppy, starve my puppy, or generally act like a jerk to my puppy.
Then I thought, Maybe the answer is that simple. Before we say or do anything, we should ask ourselves, “Would I do or say this to a puppy?” After all, even if the puppy makes a doody on the rug, we don’t beat the puppy. We may wag our fingers and say no, or speak in a stern voice, but we’d clean up the mess and we wouldn’t be unnecessarily cruel.
I’d had an epiphany. I could not only get rid of all the hate and ugliness in the world, but I could sell “Would I do this to a puppy?” t-shirts. I could get a TED talk and go on the $50k a pop lecture circuit. A book would follow, and then a movie based on the book. I’d be an internet sensation and eventually need bodyguards.
Then I thought some more. Because there are some things we do to puppies that we perhaps ought not to do to each other. We neuter puppies when they are just a few weeks old. We make them eat the same kibble three times a day in bowls on the floor. They sleep without snuggly blankets and do their business out of doors in front of God and everyone. We decide when and if they ever get to see their nuclear families. We don’t let them wear pants and we force them to wear humiliating sweaters.
So maybe “Would I do this to a puppy?” isn’t entirely the way to go. Or maybe I’m just overthinking the analogy. I don’t know. Whatever we do, we’ve got to eliminate the words “idiot,” “loser,” “moron,” or anything ending in “-tard” from our collective vocabularies. And above all, as the eminent philosophers Bill S. Preston, Esquire and Ted “Theodore” Logan posited in 1989, “Be excellent to each other.”
If you enjoyed this and want to read more like it, visit Lori on Twitter or on Facebook. Lori is a National Society of Newspaper Columnists 2018 Columnist winner, and a New Apple, Readers’ Favorite, and eLit award winner for her latest release, “You Know I Love You Because You’re Still Alive.” She is also the author of the bestselling books “Mismatched Shoes and Upside Down Pizza,” and “The Armadillo, the Pickaxe, and the Laundry Basket.”
Lori B. Duff is an award-winning author who practices law on the side. Her latest book, “If You Did What I Asked in the First Place” was awarded the Gold Medal for humor in the Foreword INDIES awards in 2019. You can follow her on Twitter at @LoriBDuff and on Facebook. For more blogs written by Lori, click here. For more information about Lori in general, click here. If you want Lori to do your writing for you, click here. If you want Lori to help you market your book, click here.