Sunday, January 31, 2010

"Frankenstein" Revisited

Any one who knows me knows how crazy I am for my dogs.  I have a heart for pit bulls, in general, and revile the terrible things people do to them; if I could rescue them all, I would.  To me, pit bulls are a classic example of what our society does to itself. 
The "American Pit Bull Terrier" developed as American breeders began to "change the specs" on a variety of bulldogs and terriers.  They were bred as athletes, both in the ring and out.  They have an incredible tolerance for pain, unbelievable strength and heart, and a bite that doesn't quit (Their jaws do not "lock" as some claim -- they just refuse to let go!)   Because of the need to continually train and handle these animals, the dogs had to be loyal -- do what their master said, no matter. (If I open the door to Bishop's crate he will follow me to my seat and ensure I am settled in before he goes back to lie down; Tinkerbell is less doting, but incredibly obedient.)  Sadly, it was their unquestioning loyalty that became their undoing.

Today the breed is banned or subject to "special legislation" in many states.  They have been villified in the press and ostracized by well-meaning folks.  I am always amused when I see men twice my size and half my age, cross the street to avoid an encounter with my "gentle giants" and I (They are always leashed in public).  The "advice" I have received from fearful acquaintances is limitless.  Every time I am cautioned regarding the "monsters" with whom we co-exist, I think of Mary Shelley's "Frankenstein."  A monster created from equal parts ego and ingnorance, loathed by his own creator for becoming all he was given the potential to be.

Society has no end to "heroes" who fall from grace merely by being exactly as we have made them.  We hail "partygirls" and "playboys," then ostracize them when they go too far.  Few people stood around the water cooler discussing Tiger's last golf game, but almost everyone tuned in for the "latest developments" of his personal fall from grace; now his PR people are trying frantically to restore his image with the very people who thrived on hearing the worst about him.  We encourage the pursuit of money and lavish lifestyles, until we realize we are clearly incapable of keeping up, and blame those we have aspired to become.  How many "victims" of the housing boom were held at gunpoint and forced to sign for mortgages they had no means of paying?  We thrive on the latest headlines, then condemn those who made them.  We want others to be dangerous, radical, or "live on the edge," but hastily pass judgment when they cross whatever lines we draw when we begin to feel uncomfortable.  I am certainly not giving those in the limelight a free pass, but Dr. Kevorkian doesn't get one either.   

In "Frankenstein" the message is clear, the villains we are forced to live beside are the villains we have created.  Our choices, our loyalties, our goals all make for some very ugly "bedfellows" -- ones we are forced to endure or eliminate.  And, while the products of our actions are not always open to the idea of extermination, perhaps we can become the truly "enlightened society" we claim we are, and at least learn how to love.
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