HOUSTON, May 6, 2015 — Many people in the United States spent May 5 celebrating Cinco de Mayo. Others debated the appropriateness of drawing pictures of Muhammad. Still others watched the NBA and NHL playoffs.
Meanwhile the image of one ordinary man, dated January 31, crying over the loss of his beloved dog continues to circle social media. Firefighters put out a fire, but not in time to rescue the dog, who died of smoke inhalation.
A photograph that captured the moment went viral and touched our hearts.
Most people have never and will never meet this man. We do not know his name. With everything going on in the world, how is it that this man can touch so many hearts of so many strangers?
A look at the photo will show that the grieving owner of the dog happens to be black. At this point, the logical question is “Who the heck cares?”
The correct answer is that nobody cares, which leads to the next question of “Then why mention his race at all?”
The answer is that President Barack Obama is constantly obsessing over America having a national conversation about race. He is frequently pointing to what he considers “teachable moments.” Former Attorney General Eric Holder said that America has been a “nation of cowards” on the issue of race. Obama and Holder are more than wrong about race.
They are totally and completely wrong about human nature.
The man who lost his dog provided a real teachable moment. He unintentionally showed the world what real human nature is, especially the character of Americans.
Go to any Facebook page where the photo of the man holding his dog is shown. Ordinary Americans, many of whom do not normally comment, offered heartfelt condolences. Some people personally identified with the man, having lost a dog of their own.
Others just grieved at the unfairness of life.
That dog was an innocent victim of what can be a cold, cruel world. Others wanted to let this stranger they would never meet that they cared.
This is who we are as Americans. We care about total strangers. We grieve over human suffering. We decent Americans do not obsess over skin color or gender or sexual orientation. We see people hurting, and our natural inclination is to make the hurt go away.
A tiny sampling of the comments, with the names redacted, speaks for itself.
“My deepest condolences to that man. What a very sad situation. This man will go through some deep grieving for a long. All we can do is pray for him & his dear lost friend. There are no words. I hope his family & friends rally round. This will take years to fully recover. God Bless.”
“My heart aches for this man.”
“May God bless him. One day that puppy will be waiting for him and happy again.”
“Oh no. This is so sad. Looking at his face I feel like his heart is shattered into pieces. I miss my dog who died years ago. Feel so sorry for him.”
“I wish to wrap my arms around them both forever….so sad….poor guy lost his best friend ever….God Bless Him… if one can’t see the pain in his face they just don’t understand the love of a dog and the love a dog gives you…it’s always unconditional!”
“I feel his pain. I don’t want to think about losing one of my girls that way, or any way.”
Critics will say that it is easy to ignore race or gender when the issue obviously is unrelated to the situation at hand. A man losing his dog is completely irrelevant to issues of identity politics. While this is true, how many other times has a completely irrelevant situation led to a link that does not exist? How many people hear coded words and “dog whistles” where none exist?
The late attorney Johnny Cochran once said, “Race is a part of everything we do.” He was a brilliant attorney, but on this issue he could not have been more wrong. Race does not define us. What defines human beings in their humanity. Americans are the most loving, tolerant, accepting and decent people in the history of civilization. We became a melting pot by telling the world that we would accept their “tired,” “poor,” and “huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”
Americans are people who donate billions of dollars to innocent victims of natural disasters all over the world. We do not know these people. We do not expect anything in return. We donate because it is the right thing to do. We are a moral nation consisting of people who passionately try to do right while being self-critical enough to try and right our wrongs.
Obama and Holder spend far too much time beating up their fellow Americans and chastising us for our misdeeds. We are tired of it. We know who we are. We don’t need pious lectures from politicians completely unable to grasp what is inside the hearts of the people they wish to rule.
Americans have compassion and empathy. We lose patience with people constantly playing the victimhood card. We have endless love and caring for real innocent victims.
The man who lost his dog is all of us. We have all felt pain. We asked why bad things happen to good people. We also reach out and offer outstretched hands to those who experience suffering and pain that they never deserved.
We have no idea who this man is, but we care. That is what matters. We cannot bring his dog back, but we can let the man know that he is not in this world alone. People of all races, genders, nationalities and ethnicities reached out because what matters most renders us all the same.
We are all powerless to stop a tragic loss. We are helpless to explain why tragic losses happen. Most of us wish we could snap our fingers and reverse losses.
When it matters most, we do come together. When given the choice between caring and indifference, we practice “love thy neighbor.”
That is what we should teach our children rather than a bunch of nonsense about how the game of life is rigged and nobody cares.
Mr. Obama and Mr. Holder just don’t get it. America is an exceptional nation. Its people are exceptional people. As Alexis de Tocqueville said, “America is great because America is good.”
Americans are good people. If we could bring that man’s dog back to life, we would in a heartbeat.
This is who we are.
May God look after this man and help him heal. May his dog smile from the heavens and send him a sign that it will eventually be all right.