Stop posturing

Published 10:48 am Friday, December 21, 2012

Have you ever seen two “alpha” dogs’ body language before they actually physically fight? They make themselves appear larger by raising their hackles, standing straight, heads and tails erect. They circle each other while avoiding eye contact. Sadly, many of us in America have begun to act the same way.

We “posture” by “packing heat.” We want the biggest, “baddest,” “coolest,” whatever it is. We obsess on being a “winner” and disdain anyone labeled as a “loser.” We are largely intolerant of men and women who fall short of what we’ve defined as ideal: women who have no weight problem, men who love professional sports and sport six-pack abs. Some have begun to define our own government as a boogieman which is determined to take away our rights, particularly our right to bear arms. Often, we wrap ourselves in the U.S. flag or the Bible, assuming the high ground of self-righteousness much as an alpha dog attempts to tower over his inferior.

The indescribably tragic massacre of 28 innocent people — 20 of whom were beautiful kids just out of their toddler years — defies explanation. However, imagine two large alpha dogs posturing and about to fight. Now imagine a first grade child seeing them as two “doggies” to play with, running to pet them, only to be torn apart by these two animals blinded by rage. I think, in some ways, we as Americans have become similar to these alpha dogs. Let’s remember, though, how beautiful these same dogs were as puppies – how loving, trusting, and capable of learning. Our American society can and must learn to value the beauty of puppies — and our beautiful children — and stop lionizing those of us attempting to be “alpha.”

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Robert Wangsness,