The opinions expressed in previous entries may or may not express the current opinion of the author.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Finding the Inner Susie

Susie is a small, elderly West Highland White Terrier. She is short-sighted, hard of hearing, and her gait might best be described as a waddle. Reasonable people disagree as to her mental capacity. Although there are doubters who believe her outer composure reflects an inner lacuna. the more discerning among us believe she has immense spiritual depth and intellectual acumen.

The other dogs, however, are in universal agreement about her: She Must Be Obeyed. I found Susie by the side of the road one day in a thunderstorm - lost, soaking and confused. I drove around to all the neighboring houses to see if she belonged and then brought her home. As she walked through the door, our Anatolian Shepherd dog, who never in all her 15 years had backed down from an argument with man or beast, stepped aside and there and then ceded all power to the diminutive one. Susie, meanwhile, gave no sign of even having noticed her.

That's the thing - she regally ignores the other dogs yet inspires in them the utmost deference. Our pit bull and shepherd mix vie with each other to see who can finish breakfast first and then rush over to try and steal the remainder of the other's food. They both finish long before Susie, who continues eating unmolested, with nary a growl or a scowl, while the other two watch enviously from several feet away.

I'm not unlike Susie in some ways - the advancing years, the awkward gait, the diminishing eyesight, the fondness for a comfy spot on the couch and a drop of gin. (No, Susie so far has not taken to drinking gin, but she then she does so remind one of the Queen Mother.) But I want to be like her in other ways too. I would like to be able to raise a shaggy eyebrow (or whatever she does, because I can't see what it is) and command without recourse to agitated voice or excessive movement. It'd be nice if, as I waddled into the pasture, squinting through my fogged-up glasses, the horses all said to themselves, "Whoa - look at this magnificent creature - It must be our leader."

Susie's secret lies deep within her - a secret manifest to the other dogs, who can see what is hidden from the eyes of us humans. It is an inner strength, a knowledge, a mantle of power assumed onto the shoulders of her soul and worn with such conviction that no one dare question her right.

It is something like this that Klaus Ferdinand Hempfling is talking about - non-violent, unobstrusive authority. But authority in a human person always carries with it the danger of becoming a raw Nietzchean will to power. I certainly do not aspire to stand eating a pile of oats, surrounded by a group of deferential horses who dare not steal a nibble.

The kind of leadership I believe we're looking for is described in Isaiah 11:6:
The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them
past the angel with the flaming sword, back into the Garden.

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