A few years ago we had a cat called Buster. We also had an old black Labrador dog called Tarka who not only tolerated the kitten’s arrival, but came to positively enjoy Buster’s company.
Especially the massages.
You know that thing cat’s sometimes do to a cushion or a rug where they kneed it with their paws while purring? Well, Buster would climb on Tarka’s back while she was sprawled out in he sun and start working her paw magic .Pretty soon the Lab would be drooling at the sheer pleasure of it.
But then Tarka died and after about 6 months or so I went to the SPCA and brought home a puppy that looked very much like the Bugger dog in that old Toyota commercial.
I called him Pete.
Well,Pete came in through front door that day , took one look at Buster and instantly knew that his sole reason for living was to chase the cat.
Had she stood up to Pete things might have been different. But, she didn’t and no amount of attempted negotiation on our part could change how these two animals thought about each other.
Eventually the cat decided on a strategy.
There was a tree in our backyard. She could climb it. The dog couldn’t. From the tree she could jump onto the roof and sit on a low corner of it where I could feed and pat her.
And that’s where Buster lived for nearly 3 years.
Meanwhile Pete grew into a very big dog who needed a lot of exercise.I was working really hard on a TV series and having to travel away from home a lot and so I reluctantly found a really kind home for Pete with one of my friends and we said our goodbyes.
Within a couple of hours of coming home without Pete, Buster came down off the roof and re-possessed the house.
As she purred and rubbed herself up against the furniture, the door frames and my legs I found myself remembering that wise saying attributed to the ancient Chinese General Sun Tsu who died more than 400 years before Jesus …
“If you wait by the river bank long enough you will see the body of your enemy float by”
We live in an age where we expect things to happen quickly – especailly social change- and I sometimes get very impatient with the reluctance our government is showing in moving towards a fairer society.
But then I remember Buster sitting on that roof and to take the long view.
I can’t tell you when the bodies of neoliberalism and inequality will float by the riverbank of our society, but I know it will happen one day and I’m not going to give up until it does.
Bryan Bruce is one of NZs most respected documentary makers and public intellectuals who has tirelessly exposed NZs neoliberal economic settings as the main cause for social issues.