Fear

Good Cop. Bad Cop. Life is not so simple.

There’s a lot a rhetoric, talking and writing about how the majority of cops are “good”. I cringe when I hear that. Not just because I don’t believe it, but because it doesn’t mean what people would like it to mean. According to the current use of the word, “good” cops don’t kill unarmed men who don’t do what they were told to do.

Does not killing another human being really make someone good? Is our bar really so low for those responsible for our physical security within our communities? You are a good person as long as you don’t kill anyone? Not really. In reality, a combination of many small daily actions impart one’s goodness (intent, nature, personality, etc) to others.

I would rather hear about the police officers who act with integrity, treat the people they encounter (even known criminals) with respect, and make wise decisions with the full knowledge that every decision they make has an impact on someone’s life – most especially their own.

In my mind the translation of “good cops don’t kill unarmed people”, is that “bad” cops are “good” up to the point they kill someone the public deems should be allowed to live. That’s not the measurement of judgement we are provided in the Word.

And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them. ~Luke 6:31

My mood has been worsening – darkening, actually – over the last few weeks. Actually, it’s been longer, much longer, but the darkness has found a cause to focus on recently. My frustration has found an outlet – speaking out against injustice in America. What I’ve found to be true with the recent protests sweeping this country, is that the more I focus on the anger and outrage, the more angry and exhausted I become. The more helpless I feel. It’s overwhelming, really, the amount of injustice in this country…in this world. Thinking about the many ways humans find to justify hating and killing each other is a demoralizing and debilitating exercise. Quite honestly, I can only do what I can do. And doing all I can do does not solve the worlds’ problems. I know that. But it’s in the doing that we get caught up in what’s been done.

I don’t want to be caught up and focused on the wrong actions that have been done. I have to continually remember that the people who are okay with injustice, state-supported murder and torture, the rape of women, the abuse of children, the subordination of any human being are still people who Jesus died for. He did not only die for me. He did not only die for believers. He surrendered His life so that people the world over may have access to true life – eternal life. So that every human being would have the choice to live. This is the action I choose to remember each time the happenings in the world try to make me forget.

I will not be governed by fear. Nor will I bow to those who lead with fear. Fear is not of God. So in fear, there is no good thing.

And Jesus called them to him and said to them, “You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”   ~ Mark 10:42-45

Police officers are human, they are created of the same substance the rest of humanity is created of. They are not inherently good. They do not supply safety or generate trust simply because they wear a uniform and a badge. Neither do you. People who encounter you – the people you serve in your own life – know you mean no harm when you do no harm. They feel safe because you do not threaten them or hurt them or others they know of. They trust you because of continual trustworthy behavior on your part. This is not a perfect equation, but it’s generally applicable to most people’s lives.

Throughout December 2014, I had conversations online and in-person, and read comments that caused me to reevaluate the character of people I thought I knew something about. I have also had to continually reevaluate myself.

Hatred is an awesomely powerful emotion. It negatively impacts even those who are only observing hateful acts, reading hateful words and listening to hateful speech.

Hatred and fear are interconnected and reflective of each other. They both spread like an infection. Anyone who knowingly operates in fear or hate is not trustworthy nor can they provide safety. Yet, nearly every officer who made headlines in 2014 and 2015 for killing unarmed individuals, claimed that they feared for their lives and, almost universally, their fear has been upheld as a valid reason to kill the unarmed people they killed. Even more disturbing: their fear received an outpouring of public compassion and support while their victims were dehumanized and vilified.

Once upon a time, bravery and courage were honored characteristics of public servants, especially for police officers, but the rhetoric in recent years across America has allowed for the claim of fear to be sufficient justification for committing murder – however, only for police officers, of course. Women, for example, are not able to kill men they simply fear, even in violent situations. Fear is not justification for taking a life.

Bravery and courage are the result of overcoming fear; cowardice is the result of giving in to fear. Police officers who are too afraid to perform their job with integrity, respect and honor should have, at the minimum, enough self-awareness to step aside and leave the job even if only for public safety reasons. In the absence of such a minimum of self-awareness, fellow officers and supervisors should step in and weed out the officers who allow fear to rule their judgement.

Several times over the last few years, I had to step away from my Facebook feed because it stirred up and kept up a great deal of anger and frustration. Since I’ve been paying attention to all the trending senseless killings by police officers (since Trayvon Martin’s killer walked free), I’ve become more and more outraged by not only the failure of police chiefs, mayors, district attorneys and grand juries to see and prosecute murder for what it is. On top of that, I’ve become even more outraged by the willingness of members of the public – fellow citizens and residents of this country – to justify murder as a necessary action for sleeping on a park bench, walking in the street, playing on a playground, walking up a dark staircase, bringing dinner home to the family, standing outside a convenience store or shopping in the toy aisle. It’s incomprehensible to think that anyone can break these actions down to their simplest form and still conclude that these human beings deserved to be shot and killed in the midst of their respective actions because of another person’s fear or hate. Wrong is wrong – no matter the uniform or badge worn by the perpetrator. Murder is murder.

What comes after outrage? Who can sustain anger and frustration for the continued state-supported murder and the hate-filled violence that it gives freedom of expression to? I can’t.

I cannot sustain such an extreme level of anger and outrage indefinitely. Non one can. Fortunately, as a fellow outraged  citizen pointed out, organization, on the other hand, can be sustained.

After another failure in late December 2015 to indict a murderous cop in Milwaukee, WI, I essentially threw my hands up and rolled over in prayer. What is the purpose of all this, Father? How will you be glorified through all this violence and hatred? What do you want me to do? I awoke the next morning with a will to write.

I am an instrument secure in the hand of my Creator. God is my safety and in Him is all my trust. He is just and He will not be mocked. His ways are above our ways. Those who think they are free to live without consequences for taking human life without cause will learn in time that God’s vengeance will be much more than they can bear. With this knowledge, I urge all police officers who have killed, to repent. Turn yourselves in, ask for prosecution and make reparations to the families you have shattered and to the communities you have betrayed.

“But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.  To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic either. Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back. And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.

“If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful. ~ Luke 6:27-36

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Categories: Fear, Life, Trust

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