Belaboring the Obvious

Jun 17, 2020

I haven’t posted here in a while. It’s because I had no idea what to say. A lot of stuff’s been going on, and everything I could think of to say seemed trivial or inappropriate.

I started out making light of the pandemic. Even then I knew I was lucky. My job simply moved home five days a week instead of only part-time. My biggest problems were getting fish for my dog’s limited diet and cottage cheese for me. (I like cottage cheese.) I got the fish and the curds and I still don’t know anyone who’s been struck by the virus. People started dying by the thousands, and my shopping, workouts, and neglected novel seemed more and more trivial.

Then George Floyd was murdered and the entire country caught fire.

I decided to keep my mouth shut.

This reticence ties back to a problem I had back when I was a dog trainer. I have a problem with saying things that I think everyone else already knows.
Bear with me here.

Cesar Millan, the inaptly named “Dog Whisperer” was big when I had a dog training business and maintained a moderately popular dog training blog. The flame wars over Cesar and the way he (mis)treated dogs burned hot and heavy on email lists and Facebook.

I decided to do a series of posts where I watched episodes of the shows and critique his training. Instead of simply hurling insults, I took him at face value and explained what I didn’t like. Of course, in order to truly take him a face value, I had to point out what I did like, too. Just trashing the guy would look bad and be intellectually dishonest, too.

I watched few episodes and saw something. I saw something he did well that I do very poorly. He did it so much better than me that I didn’t just point it out in my reviews: I wrote it on a Post-It and stuck it on my desk. I wrote it in my lesson plans. I carried the Post-it in my training bag.

I wrote this:

Don’t be afraid to state the obvious.

This is something I don’t like doing. I don’t know why. I still need to get better at it, despite that post-it note.

So I’m going to start now.

Black lives matter.

No one should be afraid of the police.

The pandemic showed us the tremendous inequalities in our society.

The murder of George Floyd brought them into even starker relief and we can’t ignore them anymore.

Thanks for listening. I apologize for not speaking up sooner.

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