The War of All Against All

Across the street from where No. 1 Daughter lives, two dogs sat in a closed car. They barked at her when she left for work. They barked at her when she came home from work. A neighbor boy walking his dog said they’d been there since last night. She didn’t know whose dogs they are, or who lived in that house. What should she do?

An adult friend of someone I used to know was unstable, in the mentally ill bi-polar disorder kind of way, with little understanding of the world he lived in. He was childlike, in the sense that he needed someone to take care of him, and had no understanding or intention to do harm. His friends tried to help, but there was only so much they could do. Someone gave him work, but he was irregular. Someone fed him, but he wouldn’t feed himself. He could not live on his own. State and local government institutions could help–if he’d committed a crime; he hadn’t. He lived far from the community that had raised him, and seemed lost. He’d ostracized himself; he wouldn’t return from shame. I often wonder how he is.

Once, late but well before midnight, on the way home I saw a cat hit on the side of the road. He was injured, alive and hissing. Perhaps it belonged to the house just there, so I went to the door. An angry man answered. No! Not his cat. Slam.

No. 1 Daughter eventually found help, someone who’d go knock on the strange door with her. An angry man answered–what is it with men and answering the door? He bristled at the very idea a hot car was not the best place for his dogs.

What kind of society have we built where we don’t know where to turn for help? Where a neighbor is not only a stranger, but an antagonist?