When you have to correct a dog’s behavior, you can’t really teach them by just yelling at them, “Wrong, wrong, wrong!” This will tell them that they’ve done something you don’t like, but do absolutely nothing to guide them toward the proper behavior.
People are the same way. You can tell them they’re wrong all day long, but that won’t change their behavior. You have to show them the alternative. It’s about using empathy to bring about education.
In our second “Dog Nation” visit to Los Angeles, Andre and I got to see that in action firsthand as the differing customs of two separate parts of the world collided.
Like I said, you cannot tell someone that they’re wrong. You have to make them aware that they is another way, and that makes all the difference in the world. We can motivate change from the outside, but change doesn’t happen until someone brings it about from the inside.
Marc Ching, who worked to rescue dogs from meat markets in Asia, is a great example of this process in action. He comes to the task full of unselfish passion and definitely has the strength of a warrior and leader — something that came in handy more than a few times when his life was directly endangered by work to rescue dogs. For example, at one point, he was threatened with machetes.
You’ve got to be crazy good at being the calm, assertive leader in order to be able to walk away from that alive!
As we mentioned in the episode, Marc has managed to shut down some of these meat markets, but he didn’t do it by going in with an army, or screaming at them about being bad people, or threatening them with violence.
He sat down to dinner — none of it dog meat, of course — and then he talked. He brought the owners of some of these markets from a place of thinking it was perfectly all right to make a profit from abusing and selling dogs for food to a place of empathy for the animals to the point that they agreed to completely change their business.
I can’t emphasize that one point enough. He accomplished this by sitting down and talking. By negotiating. By building a bridge instead of a wall.
It’s a lesson we all can learn from, and something we all need to do. I firmly believe that we can create a better world, but we can only do it by working together to achieve balance and harmony on all fronts, whether it’s within families, between neighborhoods, or across oceans.
By the way, some people in Asia are utterly disgusted by the American habit of eating turkey, if you’d like a little perspective on how our disdain for dog meat can look to them. But if people in Asia kept turkeys as pets, and it was a billion dollar industry, and they had a show called “Turkey Whisperer,” would you listen a little more closely if someone from there tried to explain to you why it’s time to change that Thanksgiving menu?
Again, no one can really convince you that you’re wrong. They can only change your point of view because it’s not about making you “wrong,” it’s about making you aware.
Our second “Dog Nation” Los Angeles episode was a homecoming for Andre and me, and was also my most intense teaching experience with him, since he had to see the video of the cruelty going on in those meat markets. It made him very, very angry — I’m sure it may have had a similar effect on you — and also uncertain about a world that can allow such things. He grew up in a place where dogs are loved and cared for, so it was an eye-opener for him as well.
But out of uncertainty is the possibility for change and progress to be born. You just have to move on from that uncertainty and use it as a guide toward the right direction. Fortunately, my family has always been masters of removing uncertainty, and of making that decision to move forward.
The direction forward is not marked by accusation and blame. It is created by cooperation and responsibility. On our return trip to the City of Angels, Andre and I found both in abundance.
Stay calm, and find your empathy!