Two Kinds of People

Posted on July 27, 2021

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In my endeavor to understand our land and its people, I have decided to select a simple way of distinguishing people. There are those who pick up their pet’s (usually dogs) poop on their walks and those who don’t. I don’t care if you are the greatest anything—novelist, politician, computer guru, homemaker, teacher, real estate agent or gymnast in the land—you invariably fall into one or the other category.

If you don’t own a dog or dogs, you’re not off the hook of being categorized. My question for you would be, if you DID own a dog, what would you do when Fido pooped?

I am speaking here of largely cities of course, urban areas where dogs don’t run free like a farm or ranch. Since about 80% of the U. S. population live in urban areas, we are talking about a significant majority.

Now what do these two categories, poop picker uppers (ppu) and poop ignorers (pi), represent? Ah, let’s move up a step from something simple like responsible or rascal. There’s a frame of mind we have to deal with. It has to do with personal responsibility for your actions, as opposed to attributing the world around you to circumstances largely beyond your control.

Things that happen to poop ignorers are usually ascribed to all sorts of external circumstances that make your life difficult, like your gender, race, national origin, religion, education, parents, teachers, bosses, or, conversely subordinates, pastors and preachers, coaches and so forth. You can easily get the drift between the ppu and the pi.

The ppu tends to look to herself for solutions or answers to the annoying world around her. Or, and we’ll return to this one in a moment, sees the hand of someone Good in her world, no matter the circumstances. If she sees her dog poop, well, that’s her dog and while the rule in the park is clear—everyone pick up their dog’s poop—she does it not because it is the rule, although that has some bearing on the issue (of poop), but because it is the Right thing to do.

Here we move into a slightly different dimension: what is right and what is wrong in our lives, and, generally, in our culture, a loose term that usually defines our world, although sometimes civilization is substituted for culture. These are the circumstances—everything from political to social, economic, scientific, the weather, the climate, etc.—usually beyond your personal control.  Let’s take some gross examples of culture and what can go wrong with it and so turn you from a ppu into a pi.

In my Bible study each day I was reading recently where the Hebrews were punished by God for idolatry and human sacrifices, of their own children for example. God, or Jehovah, really comes down hard on these sins, a word now seemingly out of common usage, but because it is not used often does not mean it ceases to exist. And Jehovah (numerous names for God in Old Testament, but we’ll stick with this one for the moment) speaks to his people through the prophets, like Jeremiah.

Jehovah spoke very directly and candidly on both idolatry and human sacrifices. Here are but two instances of many: “When He became aware of the idols of Israel, [he] was furious, and greatly abhorred Israel, so that He forsook the tabernacle of Shiloh, . . . and delivered His strength into captivity, and His glory into the enemy’s hand. He also gave His people over to the sword and was furious with His inheritance.” (Psalm 78: 59-62) And the prophet Amos warned Israel, “Behold, the eyes of the Lord GOD are on the sinful kingdom, and I will destroy it from the face of the earth.” (Amos 9:8).

We have advanced here far beyond picking up dog poop, but in fact have simply extrapolated or extended the meaning of that simple act in the dog park to include most human—both personal and collective—behavior. The challenge is two-fold: you need to know the rules, and two, you need to decide on whether to obey them or not.

The rules can be as pedestrian as to pick up the poop, or as catastrophic as worshipping idols and so being banished from the face of the earth. A related question is the authority of the rule makers. Again, it can be as simple as the local park agency made up of perhaps of some friends and neighbors, or God himself as interpreted by the prophets, or everyone in between, in places like government, private enterprise, your church, or your Rotary Club.

We where are you on the scale of ppu and pi? I prefer the rather simple examples rather than those endowed with cosmic and theological implications, although those are ones that most probably set off the most controversy. But even the simple rules can be deceiving. I am a ppu by nature and training, but sometimes, with three dogs running around the dog park at Sokol Park I miss a quick poop by one of the my Standard Poodles Dudley, Miller, or Stanley as they scamper or race around.

What to do? Searching for the remains of last night’s supper in the deep, lush well-kept grass is well-nigh impossible. But I do see a lot of plops by other dogs owned by the pis. So, I just pick up someone else’s poop and call it even. I lost mine but still stayed in form. Would that life were all that simple. But the big rules I’ve discovered are often rooted in how well you learned the small rules. And one last thought: the small ones you first learn in family, church and schools. Do the small ones well, and the big ones will follow suit.

Published as “Are you responsible or a rascal when it comes to the rules?” in The Tuscaloosa News, Sunday June 27 2021.

Posted in: Life in America