When I go out each morning to feed my new chicks they are all gathered in a huddle by the fence. Some are stretching their necks straight up and others have their faces tucked under their wing but all are waiting for that single opportunity when I open the door for a millisecond. Some rush straight at me and others give a little hop and try to fly past. None make it. Ever.
In the evenings they often go back and forth frantically, peeking first out one side of their pen and then rushing across to peek out the other side of their pen. I don’t know what they see but what I see is one quirky little dog who sniffs around the perimeter at least a million times a day looking for an opening. I also see three or four fat cats just waiting on chicken hors d’oeuvres.
What the chicks can’t see is that if I let them out they will be chomped up in a moment. Because I see the bigger picture I keep them penned in. If they were teenagers they would be wearing out their little scaly fingers texting to others about having to be penned in and how unfair it is to be penned when the dog and cats are obviously out doing whatever they want. Since they are not teenagers they peck at me now and then and give me that sideways eyeball if the door is ever open.
Our little quirky dog is in the same boat that the chickens are in but they just don’t get it. His pen is simply bigger than theirs. For a while, each time we came home he would be lying in the middle of the street so pleased with his cleverness in getting out of the fence. So we spent months filling in holes or placing bricks in any opening we saw. He got out, we covered the opening. Finally, we strung chicken wire all around the inside of the fence to keep him in.
What he didn’t realize was that outside of the fence, the bigger dogs would go crazy over him and the cars couldn’t even see him in the road. The neighbors would call animal control or he could become the latest roadkill. It was all bad news for him outside of his fence. In perspective, his fence is much bigger than the chickens’ fence, but they can’t see that. All they see is that he has more freedom. And all he sees is that the cats seemingly do whatever they want to do.
Granted, most cats choose to lie on the porch or deck 23 out of 24 hours, but after a good yawn and stretch they will saunter off and jump the fence. Cats are not really fenced. They are a bit like goats in that area. If water can get through it so can a cat or a goat. But their reality is that once outside of the protection of the yard, they can get picked up, run over, or chomped on by a coyote. The chickens will see them come and go, and the dog does a crazy dance when they blithely jump over the very fence he has been fighting but their reality is that often they just disappear or the other cats will hold a conference and run one off. No explanation. Just gone.
And that is what has happened to common sense these days. Gone. No explanation. Just gone. So many want to be allowed to do anything and everything they want, no matter how bizarre, unethical, immoral, or just plain weird. No fences, no boundaries, no expectations, just unadulterated freedom. And yet, it is not working. All of this freedom is not making a greater place to live. All of this freedom is not ensuring that every child is loved and protected. All of this freedom is not really helping women be better women or men be better men.
We tolerate everything and yet we have even more children in foster care, the homeless population is growing, hate is rampant, education is low on the totem pole, and I could get blasted just for writing the words totem pole because someone will get offended.
Freedom is good. Freedom comes with responsibilities. Who is going to count the cost of total freedom? Who is going to pay the consequences? What about all the children dumped into foster care or grandparent care? They might wish their biological parents might have stayed within the fence just a little bit. Count the cost of having a child before using your freedom to have unprotected sex. What about the meth head’s parents? Do we stop to think that with just a little fencing their family might still be intact?
Fencing is not bad, but we are being convinced that any and all fencing is bad. We are made to feel ancient and archaic if we don’t agree to total freedoms.
I disagree and I think my chickens are smart enough to disagree as well. Don’t you know that the moment a dog’s teeth clamp down on a chicken’s neck, she starts thinking about how nice it was clucking around the water cooler INSIDE the fence.