Pet owners proclaim they learn many life lessons from their pets. I agree. Twice a day I ask my dog Apollo if he’s ready for his walk. He answers me by wiggling his 16 pound body while prancing across the room preening in his excitement. I give him a belly rub while I place a handsome blue harness over his head, then carefully lift his front right leg into the harness, strap it across his belly and clip it together. He’s now secured enough for me to attach his leash so that we can head out the door for his walk. His walk? I should say we head out the door for his controlled walk because I have control over his movements via the leash. He is not free to run, sniff and chomp at anything anywhere he wants. I’m sure he knows this with his primal doggy instinct, because as we begin to approach the door he stops, turns his head toward his back, and gives that leash a couple of bites.
Usually, I look down at him and tell him not to bite the leash then one day I thought about what I was saying, and in that moment I said to him, “that’s right Apollo, always bite the leash.”
I’m required by law to use a leash on my dog. Unleashed dogs may pose a danger to other dogs, cats, squirrels, people large and small, as well the trouble they can get themselves into by running into the road in front of cars and buses. These dangerous behaviors are part of a dog’s instincts, and while some dogs are more street savvy then other dogs, using instinctual discernment for instance, others just go with the flow without a connection to the consequences. Just like people. Yet, we homo-sapiens, as a species, have been told we have free will choice.
While a leash law for dogs has been deemed necessary for public safety, don’t you think it’s time for humans to tug at the leashes attached to our necks curtailing our free will? As a society, we’ve become detached from the reality that while we’re here living the dream we don’t have the free will we think we have. What we have is an attachment to the handler of our leash who’s really determining the direction we’re going in.
What form does the leash around your free will take? Is it a label once placed on you? Is it in racism, ageism, gender bias, social status or lack thereof? Is it economic, patriarchal or educational?
Any implement, whether it be in the form of labels placed on us by others or even ourselves, gossip, judgments, the scorn of hatred and ignorance, the sting of hidden biases, the horror of discriminatory laws put in place to demonize large numbers of the population while inequitable laws are passed to protect the small number of elite society who least need protection. Or is it the hypocrisy of leaders who speak publicly proclaiming their altruism while privately act in self-centered egocentric ways to achieve their own self-interested gain? We have cable television rates that rise constantly; cell phones that are still taxed as high luxury items just like yachts and private jets, roaming charges, bank fees and exorbitant airline costs, gas prices that fluctuate depending on where you live, We’re enticed by big fat juicy food commercials followed by some sort of revolutionary weight loss remedy followed by car commercials aimed at the one percent of society that can afford to buy them. Viagra! These are just a few examples of the leashes controlling our behavior, keeping us in a controlled walk harnessing our free will to determine what our needs are and how to fulfill them. We’ve become immune to the pull around our delicate necks and we’ve stopped biting the leash!
Ok, sometimes we strain to bite what’s behind us that’s curtailing our movement and compromising our free will. It happened when protesters took over Wall Street in September 2011. It happens anytime the people march on Washington to denounce war or civil rights infringements, or when students empty the classrooms to express their fears around the rising costs of higher education that leaves them heavy in debt just as they’re about to bring the fruits of their education to a starving world. We think ah, the leash has snapped, we’re exerting our free will by participating in our right to protest. Then we realize they were attached to one of those long retractable leashes, and whoosh the free will to protest ceases, often under the pressure of tear gas and police pressure.
Yes, there’s someone who decides how long our leashes should be in order to keep us from chaos. Are you a part of that decision making process? Do you really decide? We have the right to vote, which is our primary mechanism to express our free will, but it’s used sparingly by those eligible to vote and worse yet, statistics state over 50 million eligible voters are not registered to exercise that right! How can this be when we have so many leashes attached to our invisible collars? Are we no longer able to recognize them as the control mechanisms they are? Have we become so complacent?
We need laws, rules and regulations, but let’s stop for a minute before we head out the door in the morning. Let’s turn around and metaphorically bite the leash that binds us. Let’s ask the questions that are hard to ask and let’s not settle for lackadaisical answers. Let’s stop living in the mindset that big brother is taking care of us. Big brother and big sister are taking care of themselves while we trot along not straying too far from the status quo or too far from the length of our leashes.
Roseanne Olszewski is a writer, thinker and all around spiritual disciple who believes in the power of owning your presence in the world. We are all here for a reason, what is yours? The owner of a Metamorphosis, Become Who You Are Meant To Be!, Roseanne works as an educator, consultant and counselor, focusing on personal development. She holds a M.A. in Transformative Leadership Development from the California Institute of Integral Studies.