Saturday, August 4, 2012

BSLs, Pit Bulls and Insurance Companies

Much has been published, posted and shared this summer on social media about the so-called "pit bull", which is really a term used for multiple breeds of dogs, namely, the American Pit Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier and Staffordshire Bull Terrier. Several dogs have been murdered by city and state governments simply for looking like a "pit bull" when they were, in fact, not. This was done under these BSLs (Breed Specific Laws).

While it is true that these dogs are the favored breeds for the underground dog fighting crowd because of their compact size, ease of training and their natural temperament to want to please and protect their humans, other dogs are also used in this horrifying event mistakenly called a sport. And while the media has hyped each and every incident of human attacks by "pit bulls", they've ignored the long history of these dogs being loving, well-behaved and exceptional companions to their humans.

A few years ago I ran into some trouble with my homeowner's insurance policy after one of the insurance reps came out to inspect the house after I had remodeled. She heard my dog, Sam, a Chow-Chow, in the house barking and asked about my dogs. I told her about the 3 dogs I had at the time, which also included a Norfolk Terrier named Baby Girl and a Great Dane named Sadie. She completed her inspection and left, never saying another word about my dogs. Imagine my surprise, then, when I received notice a couple weeks later that my homeowner's policy was being cancelled due to 2 dogs that were on the Nationwide Insurance ban list: Chow-Chow and Great Dane. Just before receiving the letter I had lost Sadie to a snake bite, but Sam was still with me. In order to keep my policy I had to sign a waiver that if Sam bit anyone I would be personally responsible for all monetary claims, essentially letting Nationwide off the hook for covering any claims that dealt with Sam in any way.

Of course, I was most shocked to learn they had, and the inclusion of Great Danes on, a ban list. In all the years I've had dogs, and I rescued my first dog in 1968 at the age of 4, I've never heard of a Great Dane attacking anyone in any situation other than protection of their humans, and even then the attacks were not serious and no deaths were ever brought to my attention. So why were these 'Gentle Giants' included on this list? Of course, the number one position on that list was the so-called "pit bull".

My very first rescue was what was known as a 'white dog'. These were dogs that were trained to attack blacks, on sight. Many people in the South in the 30's, 40's, 50's and 60's trained dogs to hate blacks because the people were bigots, red-necks and the lowest of the low in the class of humanity. After loving and training and correction, Riley was trained out of his brainwashing robotic need to attack blacks. I won't say he was ever friendly to anyone with dark skin in Vivian, but he never attacked anyone, either.

And I wonder why the media doesn't report the cases where "pit bulls" have saved people's lives? Why do they only report on incidents involving attacks? Why not do stories about the animals in homes with babies and small children where the dog acts as child minder without being asked? Alerting parents when children are hurt or putting themselves in danger, when they prevent children from getting close to stairs, stoves, glass objects or other things that could harm the child? Where are all those reports?

Yes, my Sam was territorial. That's a natural trait in the Chow-Chow breed, just as it is in many breeds, though it does seem to be a bit more intense in Chow-Chows. However, Sam never attacked anyone physically. He barked and growled at a few and even prevented a break-in in my home when someone tried to enter through a rear window into the den. I'm sure that burglar needed to change his pants after Sam greeted him when the curtains were pulled aside!

The thing is, I've met Chihuahuas that were vicious and had bit many, many people, including children. I've met Maltese who were violent and bit people just for walking near them. I even knew a Beagle once who was so mean that only one person could get near her and she even bit him more than once. So, all of this proves it's not a breed that designates a nasty tempered vicious dog. It's all about the way that individual dog was raised and the circumstances of their life that determines whether a dog is calm, gentle and loving or hyper, violent and vicious. Hmmmm, kinda sounds like people doesn't it?

Thursday, August 2, 2012

USA: Christian Nation or Democratic Republic?

It began in the 1970's but didn't really take root until the 1980's; I'm talking about the government telling parents they couldn't whip their children, also known as corporal punishment. The government claimed that whipping children was abusive and children who were subjected to this type of punishment grew up to have severe emotional and behavioral problems. Fast forward to when those children who were not given spankings are all grown up and look at the number of crimes committed in their generation compared to the number of crimes committed by the last generation who were brought up being taken to the woodshed when they misbehaved. The proportion of crimes committed by those not spanked is off the charts compared to those who were, despite the fact that there are fewer children in that generation than the one that included spanking as punishment.

Let's face it, there's a huge difference between spanking and abuse. As a child who was abused by my father, I do know the difference. I received discipline from my step-mother, aunt & uncle, grandparents and my foster mom so I do know the difference between the two. And trust me, I deserved a whole lot more spankings than I actually got, but I never deserved one of the incidents of abuse my father inflicted on me.

And it's not just prayer that the government has prohibited from our schools, it's any mention of God or Jesus, at all. Someone might be offended if they're Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Wiccan or atheist. As for the Jews, Muslims, Hindus and Wiccans, I don't think they'd be offended because they believe in a God; the Jews and Muslims actually believe in the same God as Christians, they just don't believe in Christianity. As for the atheists (who were the ones who got Jesus kicked out of school in the first place), their numbers are so few I really wouldn't worry too much about them being offended except the fact that Jesus taught us to not offend anyone if we can help it.

Now, does that mean our students can never pray in school? That they can never utter the name of Jesus while on school property or participating in school activities? Yeah, right! Students are talking about Jesus every day in schools and they're praying every day before exams! What the ruling actually says is the school cannot coordinate anything that includes Jesus or prayer, but at the same time they can't include Buddha or any of the hundreds of Hindu gods, either. Still, as Christians, we allowed the government to kick Jesus out of the schools by remaining silent.

After all, who is the government? We are! No, we may not be sitting at desks in Washington, DC but we are the government. Remember the words of our founding fathers? "Government for the people by the people?" That means anything the government resolves is something that we have allowed. If you don't like what your elected officials are doing, vote them out. The sad fact is that while everyone complains about the politicians in office, they keep being re-elected!

So, what can you or I, as individuals, really do? For one, we can vote for people who are not career politicians. Our founding fathers never intended for politics to be a full-time, paid career. They called those who were elected to office "public servants" for a reason. Today those elected officials believe themselves to be public masters, not servants. I've actually had politicians representing me tell me that they vote the way they see fit and not the way the majority of the people in their district want them to. That, in and of itself, should be enough to get them booted out of office.

Now, on the topic of the subject of this post: the United States of America is not, and never has been, a Christian nation. That would make the US a theocracy, which it is not. This country was founded for many reasons, but the actual founding of the country was not about religious persecution. The reason many people colonized this land or came to this country was religious persecution, to be sure, but the actual revolution was spurred by taxation by King George without representation of the people living in North America.

The Mayflower Compact was drafted and signed by people fleeing religious persecution in England where they were told what church they had to attend, when they had to attend and exactly how they were to worship. Sounds like what many Christians today want to initiate here, doesn't it?

Those same people who claim this to be a Christian nation and who want to prevent others from practicing the religion of their choice also claim the Constitution of the United States of America only applies to Christians. That's hogwash! Had the framers intended that to be the case, they would have spelled it out in the document that it applied only to those who were practicing Christians. Instead, they were careful to spell out that each and every man on this planet has the God-given right to choose whom, how and when they worship, even if that means not worshiping at all.

I can hear many people saying, but they wrote "the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them" and "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights" in the Declaration of Independence. They did, but these people are forgetting something that God also did: He gave man the freedom of choice. Mankind has the choice to serve God or not to serve Him, it's called Free Will. And if you'll really read the words they used, they used wording that would include for those who worship other gods their chosen and designated deity. It doesn't mean they thought the other gods were real or worthy, it just means they knew men have the right to choose whom they worship and they were not going to disqualify anyone who worshiped Mohammed and not Jesus.

As Christians, we are given specific instructions by Christ on how we are to lead our lives. The first commandment He gave us to follow is: "Love God with your whole heart, soul and mind." The second, He said, is like the first: "Love your neighbor as you have been loved by God," and He defined neighbor as every other person on the planet. His third commandment is, "go and spread the Good News of the gospel and make disciples." But, Jesus also knew that some people would not accept the Good News and He gave us instruction on what to do when someone rejects our message: "shake the dust off your feet and move on to the next person." We cannot force someone to "repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ so that they might be saved." Salvation comes from true repentance in one's heart. While someone may say the words and do the deeds to appear as if they're following Christ because they were forced to do so, in the far reaches of their heart they're no more saved than the devil, himself.

And yet, almost from the time of Christ's ascension, we have been trying to force people to accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior. At the heart of the Crusades was the notion that they were going to force the Muslims to become Christians, and we are seeing today the results of that fiasco.

Jesus taught us to walk in humility, to let His light shine through us to illuminate the darkness. Our lives are our best testimony, not our words. People see the way we live more than they hear the words we speak. You can speak all the right words and quote the Bible word-for-word without mistake, and yet if your life isn't reflecting the teachings of His Holy Word, people are going to laugh at you, talk about you behind your back and compare notes with others, as well as informing anyone you haven't met, that you are a hypocrite.

Jesus walked in love. His 3½ year ministry was marked by His compassion, His giving. He never boycotted anyone for not following Him. He never led protests against the government because they weren't doing what was right, and He lived not under a Jewish ruler of His home country but by the invading, domineering occupying force of the Roman empire. If anyone had a right to protest the ruling party, it was Jesus and those of His day! In fact, many of those around Him tried to get Him to do just that, but His answer to them was that this world was not His kingdom!

Yes, we live in this world in the present time. Yes, we love our country, but the United States of America is not where I hold my citizenship. I am a child of the everlasting God, heir of salvation with the King of kings. As the old song says, "this world is not my home."