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Me vs. Them

It is one of the most beautiful, sunny, Monday mornings I can recall of this winter and I am braced for the cold touch after a starry night’s warning. I am in a hurry because I am going to a movie with a new friend; I must finish my walk, shower, and a Doctor’s appointment before that promised prize is mine.

I am armed with a pocket full of gloves and a garbage bag, a lift in my right shoe, and determination to get it all done.

litter pickup

The garbage bag is full of litter and deposited ½ way around the first loop of the Lake. I have scooped 4 dog poohs and put them in the “pooh- station” barrel too. I knew it would be heavy duty as I was walking after the dreaded Sunday walk. (See post Pooh Patrol).

The self-righteous feelings of me vs. them are in full glory with flag raised and daring someone to defy the law in front of me. I am ready and have a full head of steam.

I am so engaged that I am not seeing the splendor of Mt. Rainer in the sunrise – I even startle as I startle the ducks with my harsh movements and actions of my duty. I am wondering if a newspaper article would be enough, or a petition, and a lecture? Public Humiliation? Or how about some one really patrolling and handing out some of those $250.00 fines and tickets?

Yes, that would build the anger and get some more action and create awareness. So do I have the energy to organize such a campaign or a vigilante group to protest – dog pooh, litter and lack of responsibility?


This is not the message I wish to be known for or the actions I wish to spend time doing or promoting.

Gandhi or Martin Luther King of the dog pooh responsibility movement, it just does not have the correct ring to it for the likes of me. I need loftier glory!

Why I have spent years of my life sitting in people’s kitchens and on front porches listening to their anger, frustration, disgust, and fear about raising their children, getting enough drugs to keep them going, keeping appointments, parenting and learning to care for themselves – responsibility is a word I know well.

How many years did I teach ethics and problem–solving, life skills and listening and conflict resolution to the bright students in our college systems?

As long as I am thinking ME vs. Them I am starting a dog pooh war. I am loudly stating my values and my wants are more important than yours. I am not able to teach anything except anger and self-righteousness, because that is what I am modeling.

My heart and mind begin to soften and I can see that I value PEACE more than War.

Do I wish to teach anger and vengeance or do I wish to teach beauty and responsibility?

I wish to teach kindness, beauty, compassion and love, for all God’s creatures.

These lessons take diligence and perseverance to teach. They do not grow on hope alone and having your “mother” do it for you.

I see the problem; I can tackle this as a matter of warfare or with nonviolent compassion.

I will pick up the pooh and offer a smile of blessing to each person I encounter – and dog – on my path. This will be my new practice. All God’s creatures need a blessing and a smile…I will not pass on anger as my legacy.

This will be my practice and my service to my community and my country. My responsibility.

I see my neighbor and his dog and I think they are enjoying the stunning snow covered Olympics. He is staring at the, I agree, very ugly, empty building blocking the view. He thinks he will write a letter to the editor and have his say about taking the building down and restoring the view.

I think someone is looking at a new practice? Discovering his service to his community and I wonder what he will decide and what his outcome will be?

How do you figure out what to practice when you feel like going to war?

What service do you practice in your community?

What is the dog pooh problem in your community?

Let’s Talk

Related Posts:

Pooh Patrol
To Be of Use
Inspiration from Walt Whitman

22 Responses to “Me vs. Them”

  1. Betsy Wuebker Says:

    Hi Patricia – I love the momentum in your telling! You write yourself into a righteous anger and then woof! (sorry, haha) you exhale and realize, no, you don’t want to be known as a pooh warrior.

    Urban combat takes on many forms. Agreed, no pooh in the middle of the path – but okay with me if under a bush. (I once had a very modest black Lab who didn’t want to be “seen” doing his thing). One does wonder at the relative obliviousness of some, though.

    “Choose your battles, you might have other fish to fry,” my mother was fond of multiple cliches. It’s a good lesson about how getting worked up about something isn’t always the best course. I think your realization that there is greater value in kindness and compassion is a wonderful take. Thanks.

    Betsy Wuebkers last blog post..FINDING VALUE IN UNCERTAINTY

  2. Dot Says:

    When I feel like going to war, I remind myself that it takes a lot of my energy, and then I pick my battles, because it’s not worth running out of energy (due to fibromyalgia) over a small cause. I’ve tried writing a letter to our community (very effective but expensive and tiring to deliver) and I’ve tried raising the issue with the condo board (a waste of time and incredibly frustrating because they listen and do what they want).

    I don’t really practice any service to my community any more. I used to do the newsletter, work on the committee that takes care of the flowers and plants, and was a building captain. Now I just do what pleases me because I have so little energy to share.

    Dots last blog post..About Your Business

  3. patricia Says:

    Hi Betsy,
    Nice to find your good words here this morning. I am working on sorting out the Israel – Palestine Conflict – because I think it started over something as small as dog pooh and it has cost so many so much….

    One can only take on what you are able to take on and sometimes it is time for others to do the service projects and volunteer. I am perceiving a definite lack of awareness in the the 30 somethings and as the economic problems keep surfacing, I am seeing that they are not picking up from the enthusiasm towards manifestation. They are the part of me that has loftier goals.
    I sure do appreciate your comments

  4. Vered - MomGrind Says:

    I love your approach. And practically speaking it could even inspire dog owners to start doing it themselves.

  5. patricia Says:

    I am attempting to take a lesson from Gandhi – he spoke his mind and then modeled his resolve.

    Here’s hoping :)

  6. Blogger Dad Says:

    Great story.

    When I first started at the paper, there was a man who used to ride his bicycle up and down a major road here every morning picking up trash. I knew before I wrote my first story that I wanted to write one about him.

    A few months in, I was given the opportunity. He had a very interesting story. He started doing it simply because the city had not been keeping up with litter pickup as frequently as necessary. The man has been picking up litter for a few years now and the other paper in town also wrote a story about him.

    Sometimes, he said, people will throw trash out in plain view of him. But more often than not, people will drive by and wave or even stop and thank him for doing the same. Since the first story ran, I’ve seen another man picking up trash on another side of town. I don’t know if he got the idea from the story or if he too was just inclined to doing it.

    I don’t have quite the patience or diplomacy as you. I would more likely collect a month’s worth of poo, follow one of the dog walkers back to their homes and then dump it all on their front lawn in one big pile.

    Your way is probably better, though :)

  7. Ruth Says:

    Good luck! It is SO much easier to feel that you’re better than the dog owners (and in the field of picking up poo/being responsible, you’re definitely winning). When you’ve got the moral high ground, stepping down to make a practical difference feels so much like losing.

    But hopefully you’ll inspire others. And if not, at least you’re making the world a better place one piece of poo at a time.

    Ruths last blog post..What Are You Valuing More Than Your Goal?

  8. Mark Says:

    I enjoyed your process and your outcome. War is never the answer. We can be an activist and agent of change without invoking war or war like behavior.

    Marks last blog post..Sharing Our Stories and Discovering Communities

  9. patricia Says:

    Blogger Dad,
    Great story from you comments today too. Oh I have those moments when I think of dumping it over someone’s head or rubbing it in so to speak. I also raked the leaves out of the drains for 11 years and this year when I was gone – someone else did it-a miracle? But the job was done.

    the world a better place one piece of poo at a time – I hope so, no moral high ground, I just think how difficult it was for me to clean my shoes, and there are so many children in the area. Maybe safer for them too

    I want to be the change that I want to see in the world – always good to have a moments rant and let off steam too :)

  10. Barbara Swafford Says:

    Hi Patricia – I love how your shared, “This will be my new practice. All God’s creatures need a blessing and a smile…I will not pass on anger as my legacy.”

    Can you imagine if everyone took up your new attitude? The world would be a much better place.

    I’ll join you in this mission to pass on blessings and smiles.

    ***smiles*** and blessing to you, my friend. :)

    Barbara Swaffords last blog post..Celebrating NBOTW One Year Annivarsary With A Free E-Book

  11. Natural Says:

    Make love not war, as much as possible. i know it’s really hard to do. people make you want to do the unthinkable

  12. patricia Says:

    I understand for every hour of smiling you use 10 calories…even more incentive to give the blessing :)

    I guess a few years ago I would have thought picking up poo was unthinkable…yep! I think sometimes people are truly here to teach me the hardest lessons I need to learn!
    Thank you for coming on by

    Oh Yes, my Internet is now up and running smoothly – phones? not yet…

  13. Dot Says:

    I was sorry to read over at Lance’s that you fell and hurt yourself. Ice is awful. We’ve had it too, the past two days. Hope you heal up soon!

    “The Obstacle is the Path”. — The poo is the path?

    Another thought on your post. One problem I’ve had with Christianity as practiced by many U.S. Christians is that anger is considered bad. You say you don’t want to “teach anger and vengeance,” but if we look at the animals, they get angry when they have a reason to. They make their anger known, and then it goes away. Jesus got angry. I think anger in this case is perfectly justified, and if some of it was expressed towards those who are doing this, along with your reasons why this poo is so bad, since they don’t seem to have a clue, it might help the problem more than your pooper-scooping.

    Vengeance, on the other hand, is not the same thing.

    Dots last blog post..About Your Business

  14. patricia Says:

    Thank you for your kind words – yes! I apparently tore a muscle or ligament off a rib or my sternum bone…extremely painful and I can not lie down at all – sleep deprivation is the pits.

    I believe anger is one of the strongest tools in my arsenal of living a good life – I just have problems when it is harmfully used or too loudly or to physical – but usable anger can help one prove a point and win a tennis match…or teach a principle

    I have been working on using my anger as well as Gandhi learned to use his anger/Martin Luther King used his anger – in a nonviolent/compassionate mode.

    In the case of the poo pick up – well, I am not there often to use my NVC language to teach or compassionately make my point. I would like to give a full blown lecture sometimes, about how all the garbage and poo in the Lake has taken our salmon run from 10,000 salmon a year to 9 returning to spawn in 2008…

    This post is part of a teaching series I am doing to step by step teach Nonviolent Communication skills

    I personally have a great deal of trouble with US Christianity the RELIGIOUS Experience…but not so much trouble with Christianity as a Spiritual Practice….Yep! Jesus did dump those tables over and name call….We were all given a huge range of emotions, but right now we don’t really teach folks how to read or use their feelings.

    Karl Jung went after his teacher – Freud, on this matter with infinite grace and wisdom

  15. Tracee Sioux Says:

    I pretty much go through the same mental workout you just did.

    I usually can make it short by going straight to these words by Eckhart Tolle –

    “If you really wanted peace you would have it.”

    Then I make a choice – do I choose peace or choose conflict? Do I choose Me or Them or do I choose peace?

    Sometimes peace wins. Yay!

    Tracee Siouxs last blog post..Fit Girl Series – Obese Teens on Oprah

  16. patricia Says:

    Tracee Sioux,
    Sometimes peace wins. Yay! I am with you on this one!

  17. Davina Says:

    Hi Patricia. As my mother used to say, “You catch more flies with honey.” You are inspiring. I can see how this would cause less resistance from people and could very well be the start of ending the poo problem.

    Davinas last blog post..Shopping for Effective Attitudes

  18. patricia Says:

    The truth be told – I am the one who does not want poo in the Lake or on my shoe…There was not a stray deposit to pick up this morning and I saw that every walker had a pooh bag in hand who had dogs…now if we can just get this a part of the Sunday routine!

    Thank you for you good thoughts

  19. Jannie Funster Says:

    Ah, Ghandi would be very proud of you for your poop approach.

    Jannie Funsters last blog post..Taking Blog Stock

  20. patricia Says:

    Thank you so much…your comment makes me proud!

  21. Dot Says:

    Sounds like it’s time for Percocet. 😀

    Thanks for your explanation. I agree with you totally on everything you said, and it’s great that you’re doing a series on non-violent, compassionate anger. I’m not a big fan of Freud, either.

    Regarding emotions, since I grew up the daughter of a rage-o-holic, my therapist had to teach me that there are degrees of anger, starting with irritation, frustration, etc., and we don’t have to go straight to take-no-prisoners rage as my mother did.

    Dots last blog post..About Your Business

  22. patricia Says:

    I share the planet with a child who has huge anger issues and needs some medication to find control and lots of training to learn how to use her emotions. I have spent the last 30 years of my life learning emotions and how to use them well…

    One of my counseling instructors made me make a chart and back up from anger all the stages and words one could go through to get there…..after creating about 50 pathways written on my chart I realized that all emotions either escalate to anger or de-escalate to peace….what a revelation.

    I wish my sister was on medications! Well talk sisters another time!