My dog is stupid. He’s constantly getting under foot and tripping me, and in the process getting himself hurt. This happens most frequently in the kitchen. No matter how many times he yelps because he raced in front of me because he couldn’t resist the temptation of some dropped crumb, he’ll most certainly do it again almost immediately if the opportunity arises.
You’d think he’d learn after one, or two, or twenty times. My initial reaction is to want to exact vengeance on him for tripping me. I would consider it justifiable to punish him for allowing his stupidity to cause harm to both himself and/or another party. He usually just gets a verbal scolding that goes something like this.
Dog! (his name is Hercules, but I like to refer to him impersonally as “Dog”) Yelp all you want! I don’t feel sorry for you because its your own fault! Stay out of my way! Why do you do this all the time!? Don’t you realize that you’re really going to hurt me, or yourself, one of these times!? Why are you so stupid!?
At the end of this one-sided exchange I sometimes explain how we’re really buddies and I just don’t want him to get hurt, nor do I want him to hurt somebody else. He might get a pat on the head indicating all is forgiven. Sometimes I’m upset and I don’t give him the gentle lecture, or the pat on the head, because I figure I’m getting back at him somehow by shunning him; like his intelligence is sophisticated enough to understand the insult I’m trying to impart upon him by withholding my affection.
Here’s the thing though. The times I pat him on the head are usually preceded by a thought that follows the question I ask him regarding the quality of his intellect. It briefly causes me to evaluate the quality of my own intellect. How often do I say something or do something that might hurt myself or somebody else? How many times have just my own wife and kids given me a pass on the same sort of chronic offenses? Shouldn’t I be exponentially more in control of myself than this stupid dog? Even more so, in the context of my own worldview, how much more appropriate would it be for a just God to impart a divine justice upon me? As long as I accept the free pass offered to me, this bizarre being withholds justice though. I always get the gentle lecture and the pat on the head. I hope he doesn’t notice this exchange with the dog and change his mind.
Every once in a while this thought passes through my mind and the dog gets his pat on the head. It’s too bad the intelligence gap between the dog and me isn’t as big as I’d like to think, otherwise he’d get his gentle correction and forgiving pat on the head every time.