I tend not to want to jump into the current public discourse on controversial issues, especially when they hit close to home. My own teenage brother died in a mysterious incident involving a gun (gift from his father) and the police. But that’s a whole ‘nother story. As a black woman in America I’m well aware there’ve always been issues, they’ve gotten better, but there’s still a way to go.
However, thanks to blogger Lia Pettersen, came across a post on a new blog, Fill Your Own Glass, (nice title) that seems to be compelling me to speak! It’s gotten lots of buzz especially from people connected to law enforcement who are understandably reeling from the publicity around the recent slayings of unarmed youth in the U.S.
The post reminds us of all the good law enforcement people do. We need this reminder. The downside, for me, is that posts like these also continue some of the polarization we’re struggling with around the globe. Us versus them. This group is bad, the others are saints. And the perhaps unintentional effect of pushing the problem into the background.
We need to move up a bit higher, get beyond this divide, even the need to have to defend ourselves within our own “groupings.” Republicans vs. Democrats, haves and have nots, one faith group being closer to godliness than another, one country better than another, blondes having more fun, Italians doing it better. The list goes on. None of it is truth. Or even important at the end of the day.
The fact is, most of us are good beings, living our lives the best we know how, finding joy, happiness, fulfillment where we can find it. There are of course, caring and effective members in the law enforcement, protective communities, just as there are good people in government, in corporate America, in inner cities where people struggle with less than adequate resources, as well as in wealthy suburbs. Good is everywhere. And, there’s also a lot of bad.
The need is to want to get to know each other.
Not just stand apart and throw out our opinions, often defensively, attach labels and perspectives based on little to NO real experience, just what we’ve read or someone told us. How many people outside your regular social/ethnic/religious/nationalistic circle to you really know? And how superior, or even inferior do you feel toward them?
The fact is, for all the good in law enforcement, we do have a problem of abuse that needs to be dealt with, just as we have a problem with dysfunctional governments, income inequality, cyber security, and so on, and so on. There are no quick fixes, but I could almost guarantee that a good beginning would be more of us moving toward real connection and increased understanding of the so-called problem people. Who is that person really? What’s their life like? What issues are they dealing with that may be different, more, or less challenging than mine?
We need to want to know more than we want to sit at home in our separate enclaves and presume to know, to sit at home in our own righteousness, often self-righteousness, and be sure we are better, or know better. I know for sure I don’t.
In a previous post, http://sandrareflects.com/2014/12/02/bridging-divides-sweetly/, I stopped short of calling on each of us to take the step of getting to know someone we don’t, someone we normally just avoid, “they’re not like us, not our kind,” to find out just how much we share in common. Get out of our comfort zones and be a part of the solution!
Now is the time.
It always is, always will be. NOW. Law enforcement personnel need to know the people they’re charged with protecting, or apprehending. KNOW them. Mix with them. Sit with them. Enough to reduce the fear, enough to enable them to want to seek, and ultimately find a better, safer, more effective way. They probably also need better training, mentoring, supporting. The same is true for any other group, from families to communities to political parties to corporate and government leaders. There are many people out there who know this and are practicing it. What about the rest of us? We’re all in this together and we’re all that we’ve got.
There’s someone near you, or maybe not so near, you’ve been passing up the opportunity to get to know, better. Do it. Now.