The Master asks one of his two dogs, “Where is ___?” If the second pet wags her tail, looks quizzically at the owner, then proceeds to go to the far end of the next room and locates the wandering misfit and barks to you that she has found him – do we disbelieve? If the same question were to be asked of one’s child in reference to a sibling, and the identical result occurs where the first child goes into another room or runs up into the attic and locates the lost soul, would there be any doubt?
Same circumstances, identical behaviors, concurrent results; merely different mammals within the genus of species, and yet we disbelieve because of arrogance and pride of self-worth. Why is it that we refuse to attribute understanding to non-human entities despite clear evidence to the contrary? Is language defined by grammatical rules of construction retrospectively applied, and does that constitute a basis for refusing to allow admittance into the colony of intelligence “clubs” of exclusivity we have created based upon rules of comprehension we have paradoxically constructed?
The rules constituting grammatical comprehension and technical application came subsequent to language itself; for, no one believes that Man sat down eons ago and decided to set down rules of linguistic conveyance, upon which the growing population then began to follow. No, conformity to such constricting paradigms were initiated, instituted and concretized when society recognized that there were differences in parochial intonations, and those who had nothing better to do decided with arrogance and ivory-tower nose-lifting that correct idioms of speech needed to be recognized, applied and adhered to.
And what of animals? So long as the working paradigm consisted of our self-image as just below the angels and above the burdens of beasts, we refused their eligibility to the elite of elasticity in language and comprehension. Yet, despite all of the convoluted attempts at avoiding acknowledgment and recognition that “to understand” is nothing more than the behavior following an utterance of speech, the pragmatism of daily life refutes our own methodology of exclusionary conduct. For, in the end, it is merely the impact of speech upon behavior in a given society, whether that indicates a “human” world or a “dog” universe.
For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are considering filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the question of “understanding” before “acting” often becomes a vicious circularity resulting in non-action: The complexity of the legal tangles in Federal Disability Retirement law tends to make the Federal or Postal employee pause; failure to act in preparing, formulating and filing a Federal Disability Retirement application serves to exacerbate one’s condition, which leads to greater stress and turmoil; non-action results.
The key is to recognize that “understanding” – not even “complete understanding” – is necessary. Rather, it is often the subsequent initiation of acting following a verbal commitment that is the only real test of understanding.
Robert R. McGill, Esquire
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