Facilitate the power of love - confront the love of power

Mon, 06 Sep 2004

When to kill an old dog 1

I have been feeling really upset about the Jeannie situation. How do we decide when this once delightful old dog now on her last legs or rather no legs at all, no hearing, blind, that it is time to take her life. Interesting yesterday to have a meeting with Barbara about it. What came out of it, apart from the sheer scale of the stress that 24/7 care takes out of our lives, is how far Karen Armstrong's notions about fundamentalism seem relevant.

We sat with the 'logos' of the situation, the practicalities, thinking through what to do. Are we looking after her well enough? Are we looking after ourselves well enough? Are the criteria for killing her that the vets speak about yet in place? The answer, despite her derlict condition, is no they aren't in place, she eats, demands attention for necessary bodily functions and still has a presence. And local discomforts apart doesn't appear to be suffering. Coping under strain yes, suffering no, so far as we tell.

So having sat and considered all this, everything we could think of, we could see standing apart from all this the 'mythos' as Karen Armstrong (and C. G. Jung) calls it, an over-arching core belief that life is sacred. A different form of domination, the chosen dominant 'mythos', by which we live. Among the occasional distress that caring for Jeannie causes between us and in restrictions on what we can do together, we aren't about to kill her to fix these difficulties.

So this seems an acceptable form of dominance the dominance of an adopted, higher order belief. That some people would call spiritual. When she barks for food or to be taken out, or growls, when a much bigger dog comes up to her, or she smells the out sight neighbour's goats, or wild boar, this animal still has the zizz of life. And interestingly, even our neighbour, a farmer life-long on this land, acknowledged this zizz yesterday.

So as I'm surprised to find, here is a willing submission to a spiritual imperative. A benign form of domination, and anyway another aspect of not supporting any form of meat production.

A second thought that emerged from this is how could this domination mutate into fundamentalism of the kind that is damaging in the world? I guess through holding to it too rigidly, knowing that Jeannie was in a lot of pain and incapable of doing anything for herself and refusing then to take her life. Something like the Jehovah's witnesses refusal to accept blood transfusions for biblical reasons. Then the dom of dominance reverses into the poisonous literalism of those branches of fundamentalism where too much god drives out love and compassion.

Intriguing and a bit shocking for this enquiry to have found in-house an acceptable form of dominance.

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