Friday, January 20, 2017

You're So Brave! (Not Really)

"Rescuing" a dog from the shelter is not nearly as exciting as it sounds.

Our Greyhound was an amazing dog, and they do make excellent pets - very clean, easy to get along with, and loving.  It helps, of course, as with any dog, if you are home all the time.   Dogs of all sorts go a little nuts of left alone for hours a day.

A funny thing, though, when we'd meet people, they would say, "Oh, did you rescue her?" and I was never comfortable with that phrase.  I'd reply, "yes, we adopted her at the track" because that is what we did.   You go the track, pay $250 and they give you a dog.

"Rescue" implies some sort of Indiana Jones kind of deal, where you swing in on ropes and snatch up the dog from the clutches of evildoers.   It really wasn't that dramatic.

But people wouldn't just leave it at that, telling us what "heroes" we were for rescuing our dog and what a great thing we did, and so on and so forth.   And I get it, they are trying to be nice and all, but frankly, I don't think I deserve "hero" status for it. 

Being a hero is like when you dive on a live grenade to save your chums in combat.  That sort of thing.   Adopting a dog is a nice thing to do, it doesn't make you a saint.

Similarly, when we got married, we got a lot of well-meaning congratulations - again with the "you're so brave!  What a great thing to do!' as if we had split the atom.   And again, I hate to rain on well-wishers, but the only reason behind it was so that we would be recognized by the IRS, not by the ladies down at the Baptist Church.

With regard to the latter, I don't care what they think - and they are entitled to their wrong opinions, of course.   Like most Americans, I just want to be left the hell alone - by other people and by the IRS.  Bravery didn't enter into it.

This same sort of reaction accompanied Bruce Jenner and Bradley Manning when they decided to "come out" as transgender.   "He's so brave!" they'd say, or "She's so brave!" and laud someone for what was, is, and should remain, a highly personal decision in life.  And no, I don't think bravery is involved at all.

Bravery is not doing something that is easy, convenient, or beneficial to yourself, even if it may be somewhat difficult or society may oppose you.

And while it is nice that people are well-wishers, we should save the term "bravery" and "hero" for people who are really brave and do heroic things.