We have a new dog. He is a four-year-old male who is very gentle and easy to train, a breed that seldom barks, but loves to play. Likes to be rubbed and petted. We got him from a pet shelter; he is a rescue dog. The problem is we have a cat who has lived here a couple years without any other pets among us. He is a neutered male, just as the dog is. So far they have not really met. The cat spends 99 percent of his time under our bed.
We knew this would be like a tough international problem. So we have adopted a plan recommended by experts. Everything the cat needs is in our bedroom, food, water and the “you know what” box. We have already trained the dog to know he cannot go into the bedroom. That is the cat’s safe zone.
Our progress so far is really slow. In the first week since we got the dog, the cat has been out of the bedroom two times. Those were when the dog was gone to the vet, or out for a walk. Our cat is a brave cat outdoors. He normally goes hunting daily, regardless of snow, cold temperatures or wind. He is a killer. But now he’s holed up in his hideout.
The trouble is, the cat does not trust the dog, and I suppose he doesn’t trust us, either! So we are introducing them very slowly, without pressure. I hope that in a few more days they will both discover the other one is quiet, not aggressive and might just be a friend. We’ve had dogs and cats before that got along very well.
This little problem in our house is like a big problem in our country. We don’t trust one another. Somehow we have become a much more tribal country. Different political views are portrayed like the other side wants to take us on a death march to hell. People who used to be good neighbors don’t talk any more because their disagreements are so intense. Relationships are torn and inflamed like irritated arthritis joints. Even family members anxiously avoid talking about public affairs. We need to get past this in order to be a healthy nation once again.
Elections and debates have been raucous in the past as well. But when the elections were over, people crafted great compromises and good legislation resulted. Political opponents have been friends and trusted each other’s best intentions were for the good of our country. Our society needs this kind of real healing. I’m afraid too many of us are like our tom cat, hiding out under the bed, and not wanting to even look at the dog that is waging his tail out in the hallway. Are we so fragile? Are we so unable to listen to one another? I hope not.
I am hoping leaders on both sides will bring us to a better place and time. I hope they will look for ways to know one another as human beings who really do want the best for our country, not just for themselves. I hope you and I, as well as they, will take opportunities to know why our neighbors believe what they believe, understand one another, and respect our differences. Then each of us will be richer and our nation will prosper more fully. It’s really good for all of us to not be like cats and dogs.
We who follow Jesus are challenged by him to be different. Paul understood that when he wrote: For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation.
II Cor. 5:19 NLT
© 2020 Stanley Hagemeyer