The Owner puts her head on her arms. Stop the World, she says, I need to Get Off.
What do you mean, Stop the World? I ask. The World is not moving. If it was we would all keep Falling Over.
Actually, says the Owner, the World is like an Apple Spinning Silently in Space.
That is Rubbish, I say. The Moral Dog feels sick even when he chases his tail, I say. He would certainly know if there was any spinning going on, I say.
Nevertheless, says the Owner. We are Spinning, albeit arguably we would not be Spinning Silently if we were not in Space. Indeed it is the fact that we are Spinning that holds us to the ground and stops us falling over. If the Earth braked suddenly we would all drop off into Space.
How do you know? I ask.
Science and Observation, says the Owner.
Sometimes, I say, Science is Quite Mad.
Mad but Accurate, says the Owner. If you burned every Science Book ever written they would eventually not only be Written Again, they would say the Same. And whilst they were written the World Would Still be Spinning in Space. Silently, because in Space Nobody can Hear you Scream.
I wish you hadn’t brought Alien into this I say. It seems to me that Space has proved Rather Dangerous in the past, as Sigourney Weaver discovered.
That was just a Film, says the Owner. Sigourney Weaver was not really in Space, she was in Hollywood.
Then I am absolutely never going there, I say. It is clearly full of Aliens.
Many have said so before you, says the Owner, but do not worry. I cannot really get off the world. It is a way of saying I wish things were Different. I am suffering from Covid.
Do you have it again? I ask, Socially Distancing myself in a subtle manner.
No, says the Owner, there is no need to hide under the table. I do not have Covid again. My Night on call has left me Attacked by Empathy.
That sounds most unpleasant, I say. Does it have teeth? I ask.
No, says the Owner, Empathy is generally considered a Good Thing. It describes the psychological capacities that are central to the organisation of social creatures through allowing us to understand each other’s thoughts and feelings, emotionally engage with them, and care for their well–being. It is essential both to the practice of Medicine, and the function of Society.
It is essential to the function of Moral Dogs too, I say, but I had not realised that one could be Attacked by it.
When one talks all night to Persons who are Poorly and Afraid of Covid, says the Owner, it can be Overwhelming. Empathy has a Price.
What can I do to help? I ask, because as a Moral Dog, I too wish to demonstrate Empathy, I say.
The Moral Dog could pass me the Lindt Chocolate Rabbit, says the Owner. He will find it on the shelf in the Fridge. That would be an Act of Great Empathy.
The Moral Dog is on it, I say, Empathetically.
Without eating it, says the Owner.
Of course, I say, Even More Empatheticaly.
Or slobbering on it, says the Owner.
I would not dream of it, I say, with a positive Surfeit of Empathy. I retrieve the Rabbit with Care. I do not even Slobber. I pass it to the Owner in her Hour of Need, along with my Empathy.
The Owner receives the Rabbit and Consumes its Ears. There is silence whilst she recovers from the Emotional Toll. The Moral Dog awaits the Expected Gratitude and Portion of Cheese with Anticipation. She puts the Rabbit down and sighs.
I knew the Moral Dog could open the Fridge, she says. Now I am definitely putting a Lock on It.
Empathy certainly does have a Price. It appears to be the Moral Dog who has paid it.
Hergest the Hound
I am a dog of many thoughts.