This weekend, I had the displeasure of watching an individual engaging in what could be considered very thoughtless, irresponsible behavior. What I witnessed made my blood boil, but I didn’t say anything.
Despite what I saw, I didn’t confront the guy. I didn’t call him out for what he was doing. I didn’t ask him to stop, engage in a dialogue, or state my opposition. I kept my mouth shut.
And so did everyone else around me.
It doesn’t take a lot of particularly deep thinking to understand why keeping your pet on a leash or in a carrier when attending an outdoor clinic is a good idea, especially given the close proximity of the event to a very busy, local road. At the clinic I attended with my hubby and Misty this Saturday, only a curb separated pets and their owners from steady traffic as some of us waited over an hour to spend 20 seconds with the vet. Common sense dictates that you should spend a few dollars on basic necessities to restrain your pet and keep them safe.
But not everyone shares my opinion, including a man I’ll call Cellphone Guy. He was about half a dozen people behind us and brought his 2-3 month old puppy, sans leash and collar, proceeding to let him roam free, inches from the aforementioned road while he directed his full attention to his mobile device. While the puppy was friendly, he had no clue that the world beyond the curb was dangerous. It would have been useless to try to explain to the little guy that this also wasn’t a dog park, and that the other dogs weren’t there to play. Or that when his owner looked up from his phone, gave a lazy whistle, and made a minor effort to retrieve him, that it wasn’t some kind of game. It would have been useless to tell the puppy all of that, and probably just as futile to say as much to his owner. But, of course, as I mentioned, I didn’t speak up.
And neither did anyone else.
Nobody said a word to this guy, although I think a few of us would have liked to. Should we have? Probably. But would it have done anything to fix the situation? If you’re negligent enough to be the only guy (out of at least a hundred pet owners) at the Saturday clinic who doesn’t even have a collar or care that strangers are keeping your dog from running out into the street, I don’t think anything I could say to you would help.
But, judging by today’s current rhetoric, my choice to not confront the guy is the same as saying “I support you.” Because I chose not to speak up, society tells me that I, also, believe that it’s okay to focus on my cellphone while I let my pet go play in traffic. I may as well have given him a pat on the pack and shaken his hand, because IF YOU DON’T SAY SOMETHING AGAINST IT, YOU’RE FOR IT, right?
That’s what is so absolutely ridiculous about the cry to disavow or be counted among the other side. Never mind that I brought my cat safely in her carrier. I said nothing, so I must therefore support Cellphone Guy’s actions.
It doesn’t matter that I personally stopped the puppy from running out into the street twice by putting my hand and body in the way, telling him to “stay off the road, good boy.” I didn’t say anything to his owner, so that’s just as bad as letting him run right past me to get hit by a car. Words speak louder than actions, right?
Is it really so important for me to shout “I’m not negligent and I don’t support your negligence,” at the guy (or into the empty, judgmental void of the internet) while my actions and sidelong glances to the similarly silent people around me spoke volumes enough on their own? Clearly, what Cellphone Guy did doesn’t sit right with me at all (or I wouldn’t have wasted my time writing a blog post about him), but because such ignorance and stupidity would never cross my mind concerning my own pet, why is it necessary for me to defend my silence?
There are many situations where silence doesn’t cut it. If no one ever spoke up in opposition of anything, the world would be a sorry place in which to live. However, it isn’t right to shun people for not saying anything when you stand to gain nothing more from them than hollow words of solidarity, or when the situation they choose not to speak out against should be a matter of common sense and decency.
Why can’t we all assume, as I did this Saturday, that everyone else in line that day saw things the way I saw them? Can’t our actions to the contrary prove that we’re all on the side of taking good care of our pets, even though none of us called the guy out?
Go ahead and call me silly, but I’d rather let my actions show what kind of person I am than to try to keep up with the trend of announcing all of the things that I’m not.