Saturday, January 7, 2012

R.I.P. Dinah, 1999-2012

Scrappy, loyal, and yes, demanding ... You were loved.

Every now and then, in my conversations with Somali refugees, the subject of pets comes up. The way we treat our animals, and even invite them into our homes, amuses them.

A few years ago, when I was teaching ESL, I took two days off and drove 1800 miles to say goodbye to a beloved cat.

When I returned to the classroom, my students were astounded. They understood I was sad, and told me how sorry they were. But they also thought it was funny.

I don't always feel the need to defend American culture, but I wanted to tell them that--except when taken to Paris Hilton-like extremes--this is one of the good things about Americans. Imagine the additional dysfunction that would be unleashed upon the world if we Americans didn't have loving pets standing between us and the abyss! That's what I wanted to say, but it was, after all, an ESL class.

Amina may have heard some of what I wasn't saying, though. I like it, she said.

Americans are very kind to animals. Africans are not kind to animals.

Africans, she added with unusual candor, are not kind to people.

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