In the entire history of humankind our civilization has bared a sole and universal stigma: beware of the dog. This is not just a driveway signal, nor a signboard posted in a fence. It is the essential reflection of our nature. Is the potential battle against the dog what define human nature? Or is the presence of the dog itself? I deeply suspect both questions have a positive answer.
Everybody has a dog, each one of us has it inside our hearts. Upon us rely the exclusive responsibility of letting it out or chaining it. When we hear about self-control, instincts and reason, discipline, temper, those are in fact different names for dog lessons. We are the dogs we ought beware. We are the poison and the cure, the vice and the virtue, the beast and the tamer. For instance, our whole history. We are capable of the most heinous actions ever conceived. That is why we should remember, that is why we must beware.
However, remembering is just half the battle. History give us the mirror to our nature, to ourselves; hence, we beware and tame. As Sir Thomas Hobbes said about human nature, in words of Plauto: homo homini lupus, 'the man is a wolf to man'. Nevertheless, we should consider too Seneca's respond to Plauto's premise: autem homo sacra res homini, 'but also the man is a sacred thing to man'. Our nature gives us basically a twofold path: unleash the dog and turn into a beast or embrace our savage condition and limiting it. In the latter resides our battle against the dog, and battling it is also part of our nature.
Meeting our own nature is being conscious of the animal in front of us. What we decide to do once we read the sign would be our daily struggle. Beware of the dog is the restrain with which we can assure our freedom, is the step back that allows us to keep moving forward. Beware of the dog is a reflection and a cry.