Last updated 3/14/2023 at Noon
Bernie, our 12-year-old black Scottie, has walked the roads in our neighborhood for all but the first six months of his life. Many people have moved in and out of the neighborhood during those 12 years. Thus, many dogs have come and gone too.
Bernie was badly abused during the first six months of his life. He came to our home with a number of fears and anxieties. Because of those issues, Bernie seems to build a dog enemies list. As an observer, he seems to have included people and their dogs who won’t greet him. He appears to have been looking for friends.
Wild dogs cannot forget anything that indicates danger. I learned when we adopted him that Bernie’s wild DNA was well fixed. I tried two dog trainers, shock collars, noise collars, and anything else anyone could suggest to alter Bernie’s dislike of unfriendly dogs. Nothing ever worked.
Because dogs have ingenious ways of communicating, Bernie immediately informed Piper and Chewy about the enemies when they joined our family. Chewy, who was a young male, took up the cause with greater zeal than Bernie.
What can we learn from this? For one thing, we as people accumulate enemy lists and we telegraph and outright spread that word to our fellow humans rapidly and continually.
From ugly gossip about our neighbors, to national enemies lists of people living in our county, to our messy international affairs, we have all been affected by enemy consciousness.
For those of us who want to improve our thoughts and actions, we need to reconsider all of those lists. Jesus told us to love our neighbors. He meant all people, because to Jesus, everyone was his neighbor. If we set up a list of exceptions, we have missed the whole point. Because, as Jesus said, if we only love the nice people, the kind people, the people who go to our church or live in our neighborhood, then we aren’t behaving any better than everyone else.
There is a bigger issue. We are all children of God. God is the heart of every person on earth, whether they know it or not. Many people are completely oblivious to God and faith, but God is still in their soul. Following is a story that demonstrates that divine power operating in a man who grew up in a society that during his lifetime forbade any discussion of God and which had been on the American enemies list for a very long time.
On September 1, 1983, in the middle of the Cold War with the U.S.S.R., Korean Air Lines Flight 007, flying from New York City to Seoul via Anchorage, Alaska, was shot down by a Soviet Sukhoi Su-15 interceptor.
Everyone held their breath as U.S./Soviet tensions grew.
On September 26, 1983, Stanislav Petrov and his unit were alerted by the nuclear early-warning radar system they watched for the Soviet Union. It reported an incoming intercontinental ballistic missile, with four more missiles behind it, from bases in the United States of America.
At 12:30 a.m., under extreme U.S./U.S.S.R. political tension, the unthinkable had happened. Warning lights flashed, sirens sounded, and computer screens displayed the five missiles that could start WWIII. One man, Petrov, had to make the decision as to whether this was real or a computer error. He was a well-trained military professional. He knew his duty. If this was a real attack it was his job to inform his superiors and push a retaliation button that was failsafe. Once pushed there was no turning back.
With only one minute to make his decision, he concluded that if the attack was real there would be more missiles on their way. He reported to his superiors that the missiles were a false alarm. If he was wrong, their world would end within 15 minutes, without retaliation. He and his men sweated his decision for a very long 15 minutes.
It turned out to be a false alarm. Between the complex system of satellites and computers, the system hit a glitch.
Something deep in Petrov’s soul guided him through the most difficult time of his life. There was so much stress to believe in the system and so much pressure to act aggressively as a military man. But deep in his soul was the presence of God, guiding him to not make a world-changing mistake.
That same individualized essence of God is in each of us. High-ranking military and political leaders have sometimes shared how this inner strength has guided them during extreme trials. Yet it does not take extreme circumstances to find this guide, this strength. We can each learn how to access this power, which will bring peace and joy into our lives.
First, recognize any enemies list that may be in your head. Eliminate that list immediately, and begin spending quiet time listening to your inner voice that brings peace. As the peace grows with daily quiet time, you will begin to hear a guiding voice that leads you to a better world.
We can help the world find peace, one person at a time.
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength… Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these (Mark 12: 30-31).