The drone scares the dog. He is a ten-year-old pit bull/lab mix who has recently become an emotional support animal for the yoga teacher training I co-teach at the university. Already wary of birds—probably due to the great chicken massacre he may have witnessed a few years back when birds of prey swooped down and took the friendly chickens from our yard in full daylight—my dog’s fear is increased by the drone’s eerie sound and erratic flight. He draws his eyebrows together in wrinkles of worry and looks at me with sorrowful, pleading eyes. I let him back into the house where he cowers on the couch under the red chenille throw.
I am the emotional support animal now. I rise above the unease the drone awakens in me as I eat just-out-of-the-oven granola on the porch overlooking my formerly bucolic backyard with its deep green Vermont views to the south. I live in a condo on a hill. Built in the late 1970s, it was all we could afford. Still is. It has been a haven for ten years.
The high-pitched whirring of the drone raises the hairs on the back of my neck as I chew my granola. I analyze my discomfort. It is a familiar, nagging one. I realize that it is the same discomfort, disillusionment, maybe even disdain that arises in me as I think of the culture-crushing blows so-called individual freedoms are throwing at our society today.
As I think of the ways the individual freedom of the drone flyer destroys the peacefulness of a backyard I share with several neighbors, I equate the stance taken by anti-vaxxers with that taken by the rider of an excessively loud Harley. His personal freedom trumps the freedoms of the sleeping people in my town (some of them children trying to get enough sleep and gumption to mask up in a few hours to brave elementary school) as each weekday morning, he breaks the pre-dawn with the roaring branded sound of his pipes and the blasting radio he has turned up to blare over our little town. He rides through it on the highway we paid for.
My dog is afraid of the loud pipes, too. (He doesn’t know about the anti-vaxxers.) I am afraid of the impact of all those personal freedoms. Our social contract will not be repaired until we remember that we are one another’s emotional support animal.