It’s often said that we live in a “dog-eat-dog” world. People are too often motivated by ruthless self interest; woe to anyone who gets in their way.
Now that Michael Vick’s criminal charges have brought attention to the despicable dog-fighting industry, where pit bulls are bred to maul each other to shreds, “dog-eat-dog” is no longer an abstract image. In recent weeks most of us have seen for ourselves the graphic reality during the evening news.
Doesn’t all this give us a window to today’s “culture of death”? We shudder when we see the mistreated animals on television, and rightly so. But what about our inhumanity to one another?
Our quest to become the “top dog,” to assert at any cost our nearly absolute “right” to satisfy our own selfish desires, makes others our rivals, not our neighbors. The most definitive way to deal with a rival is to kill him or her, as is done in the case of abortion. But the culture of death spreads it influence in many other, more subtle ways, especially in the “dog-eat-dog” business world.
So we have a choice. We can play the eat or be eaten game. I remember learning how to drive in Southern California, and the first rule of the road I was taught was “you let one in, you let ‘em all in.” In other words, if you’re a good guy, people will take advantage of you. After all, it’s a dog-eat-dog world.
Yet, Christ came not to be the top dog, but to serve others and to give His life as a ransom for others. He did not come dealing death, but came that we might have abundant life. He did not come to “eat” others, but to give Himself as our spiritual food.
We’re not called to be doormats. At the same time, should we model our lives on the pit bulls or on Christ?
I encourage readers to suggest small ways that we can help reverse the “dog-eat-dog” mentality around us. Maybe it’s not speeding up so that we end up first in line at the bank or grocery store. Maybe it’s recognizing and showing appreciation for others who are often taken for granted, such as toll booth operators or janitors. Maybe it’s resisting the urge to come back with a “zinger” when someone has offended us.
On this feast of the Transfiguration, it seems fitting that we would strive to give others glimpses of the divine though God’s life-giving grace.