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Walker: Why should Spot run?
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There was a grammar school reader about Spot and two children, probably named Dick and Jane. The life expectancy of most such text books today might be two years. The one about Spot must have lasted somewhere between 50 and 75 years. The first chapter was an interesting one. The chapter title page implored the reader to see what could hardly be ignored; a half-page picture of Spot running. The next page was also interesting, cleverly rephrasing the urging of the dog to "Run, Spot, run!" then, "Run, run run!"

This chapter was followed by another which began with a page picturing a small boy running. The wording on that page was, imaginatively, "See Dick run!" The ensuing pages merely repeat the encouragement for Dick to "Run, run, run!" As expected, there followed a chapter urging Jane to run also. The point is never explained as to just why Spot, Dick and Jane should run. Not only why, but whence they should run, and to do what?

It could be argued that the book was an early part of the general brainwashing and mental conditioning of children to conform for no reason other than for the sake of conformity, beginning in the first grade. By considering this book and conducting a quick analysis, have we stumbled upon something significant? Have we pulled an unraveling thread on the fabric of a mindless area of instruction? No question is posed in the reading exercise as to why the young and eager reader thinks the characters should run. What explanation can there be for the total absence of any attempt to provoke intellectual curiosity in the young minds by taking an analytical approach to the reading?

Regrettably, an obvious result of this inane brain-washing can be observed on the city streets today. Dick and Jane can be seen daily, mindlessly running through the city streets as instructed in their earliest training manual, "See Spot Run." They are obeying a primal instinctive urge as they run with no apparent reason, no destination and fleeing from no apparent threat. They are simply obeying the implanted urge to "run!"
In other cultures that energy was put to good use. Consider that the ancient Chinese transport - the rickshaw, a two-wheeled carriage pulled by a runner - was in common use as a conveyance. It exists also today in some areas of the world as a " pedi-cab." In some areas the human power element has been converted to bike power, but is still fueled by human energy. The use of the command, "Run, Dick, run!" would certainly be far more sensible if Dick were pulling on the handles of a rickshaw. This might help resolve urban transportation problems, avoid some use of fossil fuels and, in general, accomplish something worthwhile. Consider also that such use of otherwise squandered energy would improve Dick's stamina, muscle tone and heart-lung condition.

As for Spot, his wasted energy might also be channeled into a positive force. Consider the sled dogs of the far north. Why can not wheeled sleds of other climes be useful transports and benefit the many "Spots" which populate the earth, accomplishing nothing by running with Billy and Jane? Even a gang of small terriers could pull a grocery cart a reasonable distance. And would not Spot become stronger and healthier by such exertion?

Charles Walker is a lifelong resident of Conyers and served as mayor for nearly two decades from 1978-1997. You can reach him at