I am of a mixed mind on these matters. On one hand, we depend on police officers and really need them when we’re in danger, assuming they are able and willing to help us when called upon. But on the other hand, not all cops are created equal and we all know of some, perhaps merely a small fraction, who unfairly disrespect members of the public and abuse the power bestowed upon them. Some of us out here know at least a couple cops like that personally and have observed their police departments covering their tracks or otherwise refusing to discipline the officers for reported infractions. And that can stir up resentment among the public, understandably.
However, because one cop is wrong doesn’t equate with all cops being wrong and deserving of harsh treatment on account of what their peers may have done. It’s one thing to punish the guilty parties, quite another to try to take it out on an entire demographic (or, in this case, profession) of people based on perceived grievances (legitimate or otherwise) pertaining to a relative minority belonging to said demographic (/profession). That’s true of black folks just as it’s also true of cops or any other group of people.
We become biased based on what we keep seeing, what we’re exposed to, and what side of the aisle we find ourselves on over time. I can understand that. But still. Cops’ lives matter too, just as the rest of our lives do matter. We need to come to terms with that as much as cops need to comprehend that the inverse is true as well.
And yet we instead are becoming more tribal, identifying ourselves with those most like ourselves or affiliated with similar causes, and then, in turn, view the rest as either opposition or somehow less important or less worthy of respect. This paves the way for escalating injustices, as we keep seeing unfold…
In this “game” that we call Life, there really are no winners or losers. Just people and our perceptions and judgment calls and misunderstandings and regrets and reactions and lessons learned (or not).
My prayer today is for us to be more mindful of what we’re doing to one another and how categorically assessing an entire group of people tends too often to lead to mistreatment and problems. It’s no good. When police officers shoot too quickly and ask questions later, resentment grows among the public. Cops may justify this by explaining the stress involved in their chosen professions, and while I can sympathize with their positions, this is the line of work they signed up for and these are the potential consequences that come with it. This is clearly known. When they adopt an “us vs. them” mentality against the public they swore to serve, can they then claim to be shocked when members of that public turn on them categorically as well?
On the flipside, we among the public do depend on good cops to be there in times of emergency. We depend on their bravery and willingness to make sacrifices in the name of upholding justice and the rights of the people. Our society cannot function with any civility without them taking this very important task seriously to heart. And that asks of us to show them some respect for the role they carry out, so long as they also respect our civil rights in the process. But cops are human too, and they are not infallible just as none of us are either. That has to be kept in mind.
I understand that tensions are mounting and, like many others, am concerned about the fate of my nation and society going forward. There’s so much strife, so much blame cast and fingers pointed, so much information to sort through and try to make sense of, and so many rapid changes constantly bombarding all of us to where life can feel very disorienting in this day and age. We have a lot on our plates, both individually and collectively. I just pray that we take time to pause and reflect and dig deep inside ourselves before reacting to the perceived injustices occurring in our midst. The Truth has many angles to it, not only one.
These are radical times calling for radical compassion, this I do believe. And it remains to be seen if we can muster enough up to keep from co-creating a more hellish scenario in our society. There will always be outliers and psychopaths who choose to operate with a different (or absent) moral compass, but they need not define the rest of us nor dictate our choices and actions.
Several times this week the following quote keeps springing to mind:
“He who fights with monsters should look to it that he himself does not become a monster. And when you gaze long into an abyss the abyss also gazes into you.” — Friedrich Nietzsche
Read aloud for my YT channel: