Lately I’ve been musing on the concept of authority– who has authority and  why?   This train of thought was initiated by  two of my favorite TV programs, Dog Whisperer and Supernanny.  Cesar Millan on the National Geographic channel has for years been going to the homes of people who can’t tolerate their dog’s behavior and showing them how to fix the problem.  It has to do with recognizing the nature of a dog and a dog’s needs, and the nature of the dog pack.

In the natural, dogs run in packs.  Each pack has an alpha male which has achieved that status by strength or intelligence or both.  As a pack the dogs work together to protect each other and to achieve whatever their doggie ends happen to be.  They all do better because they cooperate.

When a family acquires a dog they intend to feed and shelter it, and it is their hope that doggie and family will enjoy each other.  Sometimes that doesn’t work out as planned.  Doggie is fearful or belligerent or destructive.  Cesar describes his work as “rehabilitating dogs and training
people.”  The dog entering a human family has become a member of a new pack and the humans are the new pack leaders.  The humans need to learn how to assert their authority and doggie has to learn to be submissive to that authority.   Everyone is more happy that way.   Occasionally Cesar will take the dog from its home and put it with his pack of dogs – a kind of boot camp – to learn how to get along in a pack.  When you ask Cesar who is the alpha dog in his pack he replies without hesitation, “I am.”

Here is a sample of Cesar at work calming down an aggressive dog.

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There are numerous other videos available on YouTube for those who do not have the pleasure of watching Cesar at work on television.

On to Supernanny.  Jo Frost (website here) is an English nanny whose program has been a hit in both the UK and the US.  She aims at maintaining consistent adult authority, while creating a safe and peaceful environment in which children thrive. She goes to the homes of out of control kids and shows the parents how to create a more serene home and happier children.  Children are, after all, almost always less knowledgeable and less experienced than the parents, and the parents are almost always reasonably caring and mentally competent.  Parents need to be in control for the good of the family.   It is as bad for the children to rule the roost as it is the for inmates to run the asylum.  Jo goes to an unhappy home and  the next thing you know the kids are going to bed at a reasonable time, getting along with each other, and not throwing tantrums in the supermarket.

Meet Jo Frost here in this  YouTube clip


We are members of God’s family, his flock, his pack, if you will. We are his, “the work of his hands.”   God says he loves us and we should not be afraid.  If we are able to believe in a good and loving God, a God who is obviously far more intelligent than we, we do well to listen to what he says and accept his authority.  God’s rules will be for our benefit.  We can choose to live in harmony with our neighbor, not lying, not stealing, not harming each other.    Or we can choose to go our own way and not get along. Ultimately we can choose not to belong to the pack.

That, they tell me, is hell — an eternity of life without God.

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I will meditate on they precepts and fix my eyes on thy ways,
I will delight in thy statutes, I will not forget thy words.  – Psalm 119:15-16

It is he who made us, and we are his, we are his people, the sheep of his pasture. — Psalm 100:3