I had been walking my dogs, a cocker spaniel, named Tyler, and a cocker-poodle mix, named Millie on a cool, sunny Saturday afternoon. The dogs and I had covered nearly two miles and were within 100 yards of our house when a dog from up the street stopped dead in his tracks.
The strange dog, a boxer mix of some description, set upon my dogs. I stood between them, but my efforts were in vain, as the aggressor was set in his task. Tyler, still attached to his leash, was at a disadvantage, in size, temperament and his restraint.
Seconds turned to minutes, but they seemed like days. I pulled, kicked, punched and tore at the dog, but it would not remove its jaws for Tyler’s throat. They rolled into a ditch, and as I continued to punch and kick wildly, a man ran and dove onto his dog, sliding in the slimy mud of the ditch. As the man held his unleashed dog down, Tyler, Millie and I made a break for our house. Later, as we made our way to the veterinarian, Tyler’s blood stained his fur ran onto the car seat, I sat, expressionless, thinking how lucky I had been that his only wounds were cuts and puncture wounds.
Much later, as I recounted the events, some strange similarities came to mind. Weeks and months ago, I had often mentioned about the number of loose dogs that roamed the neighborhoods. My statements were met with arguments using “freedom” and “rights” as the focus of their justification. It was in this recollection that I realized that the things we take for granted are the same as the things we understand least, especially when it comes to freedoms and rights.
Just as we value our right to free speech, we also understand the responsibility we carry with it, such as yelling “Fire” in a crowded theatre. The same would be true on the subject of carrying a firearm in public; you have right, but there is also a responsibility to the public.
So the question sitting out there is: Where do we draw the line between our rights and our responsibilities? It would seem to have an obvious answer: The moment my rights infringe the rights of another, then I have a responsibility to refrain from infringing on others. As simple as that sounds, people every day break that rule. Normal, seemingly law-abiding citizens willingly and knowingly break the laws around them without any regard for the effects it will have on those around them.
Nearly all of us are guilty of it, too. When you drive, take a look at that white sign with the big numbers on it, and then compare it to the number on your speedometer.
As we start looking to the 2012 Presidential election campaigns, we should keep in mind that with our rights also come our responsibilities. When talk turns to cutting from one project, voters should keep in mind the responsibilities that we all have to our neighbors and friends, both literal and metaphorical. If we forget about our responsibilities, the only option you will have left at the end of day is: Which emergency vet do I go to?