Worse than a bullet is my first thought. Much worse.
The last few weeks, especially this past week, rifted each of us…with violence, rapid-fire bullets and death.
No matter your news network, the interviews, the opinions, the “what we should do” in the most part—my opinion here—was more spewing than perceptive offering. Hey, a guy has an opinion. Just like each of us.
I could narrate this blog—with more than a handful of experiences with police—some humorous, some deadly, some filled with racial pandering or rejecting or some with great moments of police acting in a manner that is beyond commendable.
I am no expert, but having ridden in a police car at least monthly for six years as a volunteer police chaplain in Colorado Springs, I know the feeling, the inner gut tug when pulling an errant driver to the side, checking available information and then walking to the driver. I know. With that, however, I always stayed in the police cruiser. But, in case it was necessary, I was trained to connect immediately with dispatch.
It is the case—to no one’s surprise and each person’s expectation, police are expected [make that demanded] to be perfect. Shucks, something like being a minister!? And when they aren’t, well, just think Baton Rouge or Minnesota.
I know all that.
Back, however, to my lead sentence. I watched a follow-up interview with two, evidently, comedians, who responded to their take of the Baton Rouge shooting. They were African-American. At the end of the interview, the host asked one of them, while a picture was shown of him and his newly born infant daughter, “If you had one thing to say to your daughter, what would it be?”
I expected in that breath before he answered, something about regard all people as valued, do nothing to bring someone else down, know that people are human, don’t keep a record of wrongs. [My pastoral gut went to I Corinthians 13.]
I could not have been more off base when the response was, “I’d tell my daughter that if I die it would be because a policeman shot me.”
Damn. The host shuddered. I was completely overwhelmed with, “THAT’S IT?” Bias, prejudice. ALWAYS locked in to a mind-set.
Folks, this is not a day to remember. And yet. It’s also not a day to ever forget—in the sense that each of us has value—I believe that fully—and each of us has a chance to bring the good to another.
Yesterday as I drove out of our neighborhood a local police officer was parked along my way. I slowed down, lowered my window and said, “Thank you for helping us. Thank you for making our community as safe as you can.”
He nodded. And I wondered. How often that doesn’t happen. How often what a father tells his daughter isn’t even close.
The sadness of that prompts me to write this. And to say that none of us is perfect…just ask anyone who’s been a member of the conference or church I have served. And yet, the issue is not perfection. The issue is…
I hope you complete that sentence with caring and not cursing.