If not you, then who? - Shawn Loughlin editorial
Late last week I came across a headline that made me think. It struck at something that has always stuck in my craw – a real us-and-them concept that makes you wonder what goes on in the other houses in your neighbourhood, your province, your country and the rest of the world.
The headline read, “People hate cruelty to animals, so why do we do it?”
The article really has to make you think. If you were to ask just about anyone on the street, they would strongly denounce animal cruelty. But, as the article suggests, it’s still happening and it remains widespread, so who is abusing all of these animals? Sure, there will be a small population of absolute monsters who do this kind of stuff. These are people like, say, Luka Magnotta, who tortured kittens for fun and attention and then graduated to killing humans. There is often serious mental illness at play with these individuals.
However, that small percentage of the population cannot account for all of the animal abuse we see and hear about every day. Sarah McLachlan wouldn’t be spending her time on American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) commercials if it was just those people harming animals. The only logical conclusion is that average, run-of-the-mill people are abusing animals too, despite what they’d say to you on the street.
I’ve always wondered who these people are. They give us universally abhorrent behaviour that, if it was so truly universally reviled, would simply end, because no one would do it.
Here’s another example that’s a little less serious, but still very annoying. You can’t drive on a 400-series highway anywhere in the province without finding yourself behind someone driving 10 or 20 kilometres under the speed limit in the fast lane. However, if you were to gather all of the drivers on the highway that day and ask them if they found such behaviour frustrating, I guarantee you everyone (or very close) would say yes.
Another one I think about often is people who talk in theatres. Back when we could go to the movies or a live show and sit in close proximity with one another, you’d be hard pressed to see a show without having to battle annoying behaviour from some of your fellow audience members. If you were to ask people if they liked being in a movie theatre with a couple having a full-volume conversation behind them, everyone would say no – and yet it always seems to happen.
Perhaps people just lie and they’re ashamed that they are the people the rest of us can’t stand. U.S. President Donald Trump’s “silent majority” comes to mind with something like that. Some people are so embarrassed by who they are or what they believe that they must keep it to themselves and hate in hiding.
Now, we also have the COVID-19 pandemic to look to for such behaviour.
Much of what we’ve learned in recent months – efforts to flatten the curve like good hand hygiene, wearing masks and physical distancing, among other things – has been accepted by the vast majority of the population if you ask them. And yet, outside of ridiculous no-mask protests or Trump’s calls to open everything from schools to college football stadiums, most people would say they are following these new rules, working to keep themselves and their neighbours safe.
However, as those practices continue to be ignored and cases rise, it’s clear not everyone is doing what they say they are.
They’re out there. They know who they are, even if we don’t because they don’t want us to.