Friday, July 22, 2016

Why police shoot innocent people

I've never worn the blue uniform, and chances are you haven't either.  Before you read another word, this is not a police-bashing post.  I have the greatest respect for people who serve and protect us, and who stand in harm's way, those who live knowing they might have to sacrifice their lives in the line of duty.

Okay, why do police shoot innocent people?
I can think of two reasons, in general, on why innocent people end up shot by the police.

Again, I'm not nor have I ever been in their shoes, but common sense makes it clear that #1, sometimes, who is "innocent" isn't clear, sometimes people make the wrong decisions, and not everyone is perfect, and unfortunately mistakes are made in the heat of the moment.  That's my defense for the completely accidental shootings where police who have honor and integrity make regretful mistakes.  This is one of the reasons I can see why police shootings happen.

By the way, I can't imagine the anguish an officer has to deal with for the rest of their lives after pulling the trigger and harming or killing an innocent person.  Before we judge all the police the same, think that over.  

Again, I'm not bashing the badge, but I'm also smart enough to know that not all police are stellar examples either.  Some police, I'm sure, have shot people when they didn't need to, out of anger, or simply out of cowardly convenience.

How can I balance this, this idea that I respect the uniform and the people who wear it, and yet acknowledge that some police aren't "innocent" in their mistakes?  Simple.  It's called the seduction of power.

The second reason police shoot innocent people, is the person behind the badge is a fraud.  Police, Pastors, School Principals, Troop leaders, and a few other positions/titles in our society attract people with the wrong motivations, people who are very unhealthy, people who will and do prey on those for whom they should be nurturing or saving.  There are people on power trips, who misuse and abuse their station in life.

Sadly, this misrepresentation of the uniform or office harms those who should be being protected or cared for.  Which is, by the way, the reason everyone is so raw over police brutality or when priests molest young boys.

What we can't do in our current situation, is overreact and label all police as bad.  We can't enact restrictions or make their difficult job even harder to perform.  They don't need more paperwork or body-cameras (unless they want this, to help protect their reputations).

What we can and should do, is have a better selection process on who we let serve on the front end, provide support along the way, provide ongoing training, and give them time away to relax and untangle their lives from the harsh work they do.  This again goes for people in ministry or school administration, or any office where there's a risk of drawing in people who might abuse their position.

I've met people who are police officers (or who wanted to join the force) yet who never should've become one.  And, I know some really good stand up guys who I'm proud to be friends with who are the type of police we all need.

The reality is, we need to make sure we don't rush to judgement and lump everyone together.  These are highly emotional times we are in, and we need to be calmer than we are, and more reasonable than we want to be.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

When the police are no longer needed

When I was young and thought I was cool, I used to think police were pigs. I was arrested many times from my teenage years into my mid-twenties and I was highly disrespectful to many police officers. I regret that part of my life and I'm embarrassed by my former behavior.

What I find more embarrassing now, are the idiots who think we can have a free-for-all attack on the police. I think what our country needs to do, is to ship all the people who don't want to have police to somewhere like Somalia, a place where pirates run things. Only a complete imbecile thinks we can have a just and safe society without police.

In a perfect world, police would never make mistakes or misuse their position, but we don't live in a perfect world -- which is why we need police officers. Of course there will be times when any office is abused by those who should be protecting and serving us. Teachers have sex with their students, pastors embezzle church money, bankers share insider secrets, and Presidents lie to the people.

Here's what I think we are setting ourselves up for, as I see the news of these cowardly police ambushes. Number one, police will have to be more cautious, which means slower response times and more innocent lives will suffer. Number two, I think less people will sign up to serve as police officers, and soon we'll have a shortage of qualified people serving and protecting us. Thirdly, I think this will lead to the rise of more people taking the law into their own hands, which will give rise to more vigilante activities and greater anarchy far and wide. Fourthly, this will end up putting us in a military state nationwide where we have the National Guard replacing our police officers, and they will patrol the streets and we'll eventually need a curfew and check points throughout our cities.

Then, when the military patrols our streets and issues out justice (in other words, we'll end up with Martial Law) we'll no longer need the people who served and protected us, we won't need the police any longer and I'm sure everyone will be much happier then... and if you think this is stretch, you haven't traveled much outside the USA.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Hijacking the podium: When Celebrities pontificate

Have you ever been to a wedding, and when the father of the bride gives her away, the dad takes advantage of the opportunity to talk and makes a speech about the minimum wage?  Me either.  There's a time and a place for everything.

Jesse Williams, he wins an award from BET, for what most of us don't know because all anyone is talking about in the news are his inflammatory remarks toward white police officers.  His use of an award's ceremony to voice his political views is nothing new.

Back in February, Leonardo finally won an Oscar; but what we remembered most were his words on the climate.  Michael Moore ranted about the war in Iraq back in 2003 when he took the stage, and Marlon Brando back in 1973 refused to attend the Oscars when he was awarded an Oscar for the best actor, he enlisted the help of Native Americans to help him make his point.

For the sake of argument, let's say these celebrities are accurate in their analysis.  Is an award's ceremony the time & place to espouse your views, and, what happens when famous people use these events to take a stand?  Whether it's human rights, a special disease they want to spotlight, or civil rights for a particular group, what really is accomplished when celebrities lament the world's condition as they see it?

I imagine the person hijacking the podium feels a sense of accomplishment, and then goes back to living their elite lifestyle far removed from the dirt and grime of the problem they've described in vivid detail... but have they accomplished much of anything?  Since they aren't revealing novel information, it's not like they are informing the masses of new issues.  Not only aren't they bringing new information to light, they aren't fixing the situation either.

Really all these celebrities accomplish is taking the rhetoric of complaint into the realm of entertainment.  And this move devalues any serious impact they could've had.

If they have a beef with an institution or a political problem, they need to find the correct avenue in which to voice their complaint, and, they need to offer solutions to problem, not just vomit emotionally laden sentiments about how bad the world is.  Well, maybe they accomplish something, maybe they pit different sides against each other more often causing further divisions in our country?

To hijack a mic during an award's ceremony is immature and selfish, it's not heroic or admirable.  In fact, it's taking the easy way out and is about self-soothing motives.  These celebrities could use their influence like Bono of U2 has done for decades, mostly off the stage and behind the scenes.  Or, they could try to articulate their perspectives by writing an essay and submitting their thoughts to reputable magazines and newspapers and seeing if they can gain attention that way.  But to simply take advantages of a captive audience while you have the spotlight, that's simply deplorable and makes me think there isn't much substance to what you have to say or how you really feel about it..

Monday, July 4, 2016

What people really want

One of the best gifts I've received in this life has come my way twice.  First, during the formational years of my childhood and then again throughout adulthood.  As I observe people and relationships, I see clearly I've been gifted with an extremely rare prize.

Growing up my mother had the unique ability to allow me to pursue whatever path I would chose.  Looking back, I know I was a weird kid; when I pretended to be Tarzan, Robin Hood, or Conan the Barbarian, she never blinked an eye.  My mom never tried to shape me or fashion me into anything other than what I wanted, she allowed me to read freely and she provided me with money to buy books.  She let me roam freely and explore the world around me without unnecessary restrictions.  I credit my mom for my creative side and my self-confidence.

As a young adult, very young, I was blessed to marry my wife Tammy.  Tammy has always supported me in whatever career choice, ambitions, or direction I've felt led towards.  She encourages me and complements me, and she stands beside me in the work I do -- she sees potential in me when I don't.  No matter what the form or expression of my work (while putting up with my personal quirky side) Tammy is more than supportive and she is absolutely the best fit for me.  Not only is Tammy beautiful and thrilling to be with, I couldn't do what I do without her.  I credit Tammy with any of my accomplishments in this life.

Where am I going with this?
What I'm trying to communicate is the power of acceptance.

People do not want to be forced to conform to what the world or others want, people want to be accepted for who they are.  But, you ask, "What if they are on an unhealthy path?" The paradox is, we can only influence people when we let them be themselves.

And, all people have an instinctual reflex that kicks in when you try to manipulate them or coerce them, and it naturally causes distance.  So, if you want to grow close to others you must love them and accept them for who they are, and you'll be surprised who they can become by giving them the freedom we all want -- but most rarely give.