My thoughts are scrambled, which means I should probably keep them in my head. But alas, here they escape on the world wide web. Over the last few days, hate, confusion and death has spread through our country. Infecting every newsfeed known to man, and yet I remain quiet with my voice. Just keeping it to the kids' pictures, the happy memories I love to look back on. Always being careful not to offend or stir or be misinterpreted. Well, forget it.
Here it goes.
I am married to a white police officer. Yep, a conservative NRA republican man. When he became a police officer over 12 years ago, I was so crazy excited for him to live his dream. He has a servant's heart, a strong desire to help others, he is strong and skilled and has excelled as an officer. He serves and protects.
Slowly but surely as the rookie title wore off and his baby face got a few wrinkles, I started to be less excited, not so crazy thrilled for the line of work I had cheered him into. I was and am often asked, "how do you stay so calm?" "Do you worry about him?" My answer was always simple and true. I would say I had peace because I truly believed he was doing what he was made to do. He was right where God wanted him. I still do not doubt God's sovereignty over Kelly's position, but I wrestle with Kelly's role as a police officer. I wrestle a lot.
No longer do I think of his uniform as a thing of honor and something to be proud of. I view it as a target. He walks around with giant reflective letters, POLICE, on his back.
I haven't read a lot about the recent shootings, nothing more than my Skimm email included, so not much at all. I chose not to poke around the internet for videos of the shootings. So, this is not a post about these incidents specifically. It is a post about being responsible for our reactions and recognizing that when we speak out, whether through well thought out words or emotional outbursts, that we need to think about how our words are affecting the horrific division and hatred sweeping across the hearts of our nation. I am so sick of people justifying their disgust with the police. I am SO sick of hearing people say, "well, not Kelly of course." That's crap. Because, guess what, whatever we are saying is either pulling people together or apart. Kelly, and the other "not him of course" officers are the ones dealing with the socially acceptable culture of treating officers like beasts. So, is your social media feed, your break room banter, your post Bible study discussion, is it helping? Is ranting about how awful the police are as a whole, is that bringing resolve?
Acting like every police officer is the same is as ridiculous as acting like every elementary teacher is Mary Kay Letearnou just looking for her next boyfriend. It is living in fear that every camp counselor is a pedophile in disguise, it's as idiotic and low, hurtful and hateful as thinking every black teenager is a gang member. Yeah, I said it. So, react, speak out, push for change. But when you do, please realize that when you generalize the police, when you speak as though all police are the same, it is as ignorant as racial profiling. I don't have a solution. I think there are horrible evil police officers, racist power tripping punks, looking for trouble out there. But, I also know there are hard working, self sacrificing, underpaid, kind hearted, trustworthy amazing officers out there. Putting on their targets everyday, often under the scrutiny of the public papparazis just waiting for an officer to mess up. Just waiting for the video they post to prove how truly twisted the PD is.
Years ago, Kelly was involved in a shooting. After knowing he was okay, my first question to him was, "was he black?" I hate that I asked that, but I was never so relieved to hear "no" than in that moment. You see, had the answer been "yes," then the case would not have been allowed to be a case, it would have immediately been a media frenzy. The facts wouldn't have mattered, so much as the character profiles the media would spin. I understand that my lack of details and my speculation of what might have been, do not carry much weight, however, I believe it to be true. So true in fact, that years later when Kelly was involved in a physical altercation, on camera, with a black male, I knew it would be trouble. At first it wasn't. At first, all the facts were treated as facts. A guilty verdict was had, a sentence was served, Kelly's surgery was completed and life appeared to move on. Then, a criminal record seemed inconvenient to the young man, so a rookie reporter offered to uncover the real truth behind the "racial issues." The same little newspaper that has reported on Kelly for receiving a lifesaving award, playing in charity basketball games and various other 'atta boy' police work, decided to try and turn a case closed situation into something ridiculous. See, had the kid been white, the media would have laughed and been bored and dismissed the idea all together. Better yet, if Kelly was anything but white, there would be no story. It eventually fizzled into nothing and the reporter ended up looking like an idiot. But, the point is, the media loves to sell papers. They love to sell stories. And often, they are just that, stories. I am not speaking about the shootings, but I am saying, can't you see that the media loves conflict? They love to fuel it, the fear sells. They are in no way trying to bring peace and resolve to those involved in the story. Peace sells at Christmas time, otherwise it's left for the Hallmark channel.
I fear we are cultivating a generation of people who will be afraid to be officers. A generation who will realize that because there are some terrible people dressed in uniform, it is no longer a wise decision to wear one. A generation that believes you have to pick a side, a closed fist or a blue stripe. Gross, haven't we come farther than this? There are not just two groups. There are millions of different people, from different walks, facing different struggles. There are millions of people that although vastly different, are called to come together, as one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. For all. For those in plain clothes, no clothes and uniforms. Within this Nation there are some absolutely despicable people, and then there are some absolute gems. May our individuality be what strengthens our Nation, not what tears it apart.
When all else fails, pray.