If I lose what I have
If I am what I have, and I lose what I have, who then am I?
I saw this photo on a Facebook page, seeking to invoke sentiments of love and compassion among that page’s viewers, apparently because this obviously homeless man had a dog that he was caring for. I assumed that without the dog in the photo, such sentiments would not have emerged, and indeed the photo was less likely to even have been posted.
Unlike other homeless folk then, this man invokes a sense of inherent goodness – his heart – because he loves a dog, equally as homeless apparently as he.
What sentiments do the non-dog-owning homeless invoke in us, if any?
We are all defined in many ways by many people, and indeed we just as easily define ourselves in these same ways. I’ve been a nurse – the most respected of all professions alongside firefighters – I’m a mother of two smart, very pleasant and well-behaved teenagers, a far better/higher status than that of a mother of very young children since I’m now a successful mother, by society’s standards – I’ve been a chief executive of large organisations (huge social status) – and a post-grad university graduate, so I have several certificates that purport to establish my intelligence – I’m now a writer, an author, and about to be a published author (yes, there are distinctions to be made here).
If you didn’t know all these definitions of who I am, you might define me by what I wear, by the length and colour of my hair, by my body shape and height, by my age, by the colour of my shoes…
Do any of these things tell you anything really important about me? Do they tell you if I’m funny? Do they tell you if I have a big heart? Do they tell you if I’m a bitch? Do they tell you if I’m a woman of easy virtue? Do they tell you of the love I fold into the cookie dough I make? Do they tell you whether, like many people, I’m afraid of the future? Do they tell you if I’m lonely? Do they tell you about the time I risked my life to save another’s? Do they tell you that my heart was broken? Do they tell you that I feel very small? Do they tell you of the despicable things I did that hurt people I love? Do they tell you that I don’t care for my country half as much as I do for the world? Do they tell you my best friend is an Iraqi war refugee? Do they tell you my child died? Do they tell you I’m happy? Do they tell you I worked hard all my life, paid my taxes, and then lost my job through redundancy, lost my home because I couldn’t afford the mortgage, lost my family because I couldn’t feed them, nearly lost my life in your war?
But if I pick up my dog and cuddle her it makes you feel good.