My Dogs Are in the 1 Percent

The other day, when my husband and I were in the woods with our dogs, and they were joyfully running and playing and sniffing and scratching, I commented that our dogs are definitely in the 1 percent. My husband was quick to point out that they were in the .01 percent. I said, “like Warren Buffett,” and he agreed. Our dogs’ lives are just so good, and they even have live-in, full-time, free health care because my husband is a veterinarian.

It was interesting to realize what constituted life in the 1 percent for a dog. It was pretty simple. Our dogs are in the 1 percent because they live in a beautiful place where they get to run freely and play to their hearts’ content, exploring woods and fields and swimming in ponds and the ocean. They are in the 1 percent because they’re rarely left alone and have someone to pet them, brush them, feed them, and play with them every day of their lives. They are in the 1 percent because they have adequate and nutritious food and good care when they’re ill. They are in the 1 percent because they are sheltered in a home, protected from the elements, and have a comfortable place to sleep and rest. They’re in the 1 percent because they have one another and are never lonely. And they are in the 1 percent because there are just so many dogs all over the world who are abandoned, caged, abused, neglected, hungry, lonely, scared, and homeless.

Dogs don’t have very extravagant wants. Some dogs other than ours might have fancier dog beds, collars, and leashes. They might have more expensive toys or elaborate dog houses, but they aren’t in a percentage more elite than my dogs, because dogs don’t care about such things. To be in the 1 percent, all a dog needs are what’s described above.

The concept of the 1 percent and the 99 percent, made so popular and powerful by the Occupy movement would, I believe, vanish, if the 99 percent all had their basic needs met. Would we really care that someone made millions each year as long as everyone had shelter, adequate food, clean water, economic opportunity, health care, access to their energy needs, and basic freedoms of speech, religion, assembly, and petition? As long as everyone was free from abuse, cruelty, exploitation, and oppression?

I look forward to the day when we don’t pay much attention to the 1 percent because we’ll all have our needs met and all be able to pursue our dreams and all be contributing to a healthy and just world. I look forward to the day when the 99% means just this.

~ Zoe

Zoe Weil, President, Institute for Humane Education
Author of Most Good, Least Harm, Above All, Be Kind, and The Power and Promise of Humane Education
My TEDxConejo talk: "Solutionaries"
My TEDxDirigo talk: “The World Becomes What You Teach"
My TEDxYouth@BFS "Educating for Freedom"

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