I owe xocobra and LD an apology. Let me explain.
I went to their house this past weekend to help xocobra paint as they prepare for the birth of their son. Rearranging the house and doing a bit of home maintenance were both on the agenda. It was also an opportunity to visit with them.
While I was there, I had the opportunity to inspect and give a little lovin’ to a young cat they’d found in the parking lot of a local store. After feeding her and gaining her trust, they were able to capture her and bring her home where they kept her in a very large pet carrier. They were trying to decide what to do with the feline. They already have two dogs and five kids (all from previous marriages and not all of whom live with them, hence the excitement over their first child together).
The cat was very sweet although still quite uncertain about what the hell was happening to it. She felt quite safe in the carrier but became unsure of what to think when she was out. Overall, the little cat was terribly cute and in excellent condition. She loved attention and was a general ham if she thought she had an audience.
But let’s be clear: LD is pregnant and doesn’t need to be around a cat right now, especially when the cat is an unknown (health, parasites, etc.). Toxoplasmosis is the most significant concern for mothers-to-be when they’re around felines. No one had any confusion about that fact. That’s not to say pregnant women shouldn’t be around cats; nothing could be further from the truth. However, this cat was a stray captured in a parking lot and presented a great many concerns for them considering the rapidly approaching birth. Better to be safe and all, right?
After laughing about calling me “the cat lady” if I brought any more cats into my home, and that even after they asked me if I wanted it or knew anyone who would want it, they both mentioned they’d considered keeping the cat. That would require a lot of planning and work and consideration, something we all agreed on. There were vaccinations and tests to consider, there was the pregnancy to consider, and there was the general status of the home with all manner of mayhem happening and bound to happen in the future. With all information available, the decision was made to take the little predator to the local no-kill shelter so it could be put up for adoption. I helped with that endeavor and was quite pleased with the attention to detail when we took it in.
Later in the day as we were again discussing the cat, LD reiterated how they’d considered keeping it. She also mentioned that, had they gone that route, the first thing they would have done would have been to have the cat declawed. I was horrified by the thought of it. I tempered that with the fact that I knew far more about cats than they did. There was no harsh response or rebuttal to the thought; I let it slide. After all, the cat was gone and the consideration was moot.
Later as xocobra and I were painting the last room, the subject came up again. That’s when I put my foot down. I told him in no uncertain terms that declawing a cat was reprehensible and that no such thing should ever occur. I said they should check with me if they decided to get a cat and I’d be happy to help them learn how to train one not to destroy furniture and how to be as friendly and safe as possible.
I’ll add this caveat: there is nothing xocobra and I can’t say to each other. We can talk about anything in the most honest terms. In fact, we welcome it and expect it. I assume we’d be upset if anything else was proffered. We’ve known each other long enough and have been through all sorts of things together, so we rely on each other for the unvarnished and untainted truth regardless of impact. That’s important to us.
But I didn’t stop there. Much later in the evening when we were all sitting outside talking, LD again mentioned the cat in passing and I immediately added I’d already made my feelings clear to xocobra. I told her and everyone there any such consideration could not include declawing the cat. I was adamant.
Only later did it occur to me how true Wayne’s comment was when he said I had a god complex. I flippantly responded with:
Finally, I’ll never deny that I have some form of messianic or god complex. I’ve been accused a great many times of being arrogant about what I know and what I think and what I feel, and certainly that can likewise be said about how I act on any of those traits. In that regard, I doubt there are many who know me who would disagree with you. Personally, I’ll invoke my Fifth Amendment right on that point.
I was dismissive of his remark. That was a defense mechanism meant to keep me from having to face the truth and his calling me on it. Let me now remedy that error.
A god complex is a colloquial term used to portray a perceived character flaw as if it were a ‘psychological complex’. The person who is said to have a ‘god complex’ does not believe he is God, but is said to act so arrogantly that he might as well believe he is a god or appointed to act by a god. Some people also call it a Messianic complex.
Some believe that ‘god complexes’ are “particularly common in arrogant, highly educated, worldly, or powerful people.”
I never denied having a god complex when I responded to Wayne. That said, I never admitted to the character flaw either. I was unnecessarily glib.
I do have a god complex. I am arrogant. I’m a rather learned fellow who often knows more about most topics than other people do about any one topic. That’s not boasting; it’s honesty. Ask me about astronomy, cosmology, quantum mechanics, physics/theoretical physics, chemistry, atmospheric physics/meteorology, mathematics, languages/vocabulary, nature, conservation, animals/insects, biology, literature, news/current events, poetry, computers/technology, philosophy/religion, politics, or a great many other subjects. You’re apt to get an informed, intelligent response even if I’m drawing from limited knowledge. My brain is full of information; not all of it is useful or relevant.
What does all that mean? Generally speaking, I normally know what I’m talking about and can easily delve into most subjects. It also means I have a god complex. I tend to think I know enough to make the most informed decision on any question, and it also means I’m apt to offer both solicited and unsolicited opinions on most any topic without regard for how I put it forth. Essentially, I’m arrogant and I’ll most always assume I’m right.
As I thought about the weekend over the last few days, it occurred to me how true that had been when discussing the cat. I specifically told LD I’d already told xocobra they weren’t to get a cat if they intended to have it declawed. It’s not that I’m wrong about it; it’s that I was wrong to present it as though I could tell them what to do.
Declawing cats is a horrific abuse of animals. It’s equivalent to removing all of a dog’s teeth in order to stop it from chewing on things. It’s equivalent to removing everything from the last knuckle to the end of the finger in order to keep your nails trimmed. It’s a horrific mental and physical violation of a cat that is proved to cause significant harm. Their emotions are impacted by the lack of security they feel knowing their paws do not function correctly. They’re impacted physically by not being able to do the things they’re genetically inclined to do (pick up items, hold items, scratch as part of a stretch, and so on). It forever and irreversibly damages them on so many levels as to render them alien to their true form and self. But that’s not a good enough reason for my attitude.
I agree that declawing should be outlawed just as it was in Hollywood and a great many other places. I was right when I told them many veterinarians will no longer perform the operation because of the harm it brings to the animals. Does that excuse my being compelled to act like a parent? Does that in any way excuse me telling them what they could and could not do? Of course not. I’m embarrassed to admit that yet know it needs to be said.
So, I owe xocobra and LD an apology for treating them like children and for speaking in a way that was belittling and derogatory. It was not my business to feel as though I had a right to demand a different approach if they considered having a cat. It was not my place to direct them in such matters. Yet that’s precisely what I did. And I was wrong to do so.
I’m prone to this kind of behavior simply because I feel confident in what I know and generally assume others may not be as well informed. That’s hubris by any definition. It’s also unnecessary and disgraceful.
Does that mean everything I do and say should be tempered? Ha! Absolutely not. For example, what I say on this blog is my business. If I want to exercise my writing and language skills, I’m free to do so. If I want to voice an opinion as though it’s the right one and everyone else is wrong, I’m free to do so. Others are more than welcome to disagree and debate. In the end however, this is an exercise for my mind and not a democracy on what I should and shouldn’t do.
But the real world is very different. I see the need for me to learn to reign in my own synaptic activity so it doesn’t just spill out of my mouth as though I’m the only learned adult in a world of uneducated children. That’s something I have to work on.
So, let me say again: I apologize to xocobra and LD for being so haughty. I had no right to tell you what was acceptable. I had no right to tell you what you could and couldn’t do. I was wrong.