I am so very tired of living in a society that requires choosing sides. Are you a Democrat or Republican? A citizen damn it; a citizen. Are you a Christian or Muslim? Atheist buddy; I am an atheist. Are you black ? Seriously? Look at me. Do you support the police? Are you against police brutality? Do you own a gun? Are you for abortions? North or South? Coffee or Tea? Belts or suspenders?
There were actually talking heads on television today arguing whether it is worse for a cop to shoot a black man than for a black man to shoot a cop. This is just crazy. No room for logic. I am wondering how murdering police officers in Dallas, supposedly as revenge for a murder in Louisiana, makes sense to anybody.
Having lived almost seventy years I know where I stand on most issues and have enough sense to know that more information may be needed to decide about some ideas. It seems to me that taking time to gather information and consider the possibility that someone else may know more and have a better idea would be wise and might result in less conflict.
As I react to national events of the last two days I choose to stand firmly right here in the middle. It is apparent that black men in this country have good reason to fear the police, even though most peace officers do not want to do them harm. Maybe it would be helpful if police departments vetted their officers more closely and made a conscious effort to avoid hiring those who are obviously racist. There is another personality that has no place on the police force — that is the hot dog. You know, that guy from high school who thought tying empty cans to the dog’s tail was funny.
Maybe we need a different kind of public service announcement. Instead of the dangers of too much soda how about an ad for how to respond to a police officer? Cover some simple basics like don’t reach into your pockets or start running. Stay calm and respectful and follow the instructions you are given. This probably works in most communities for young white people and should, should work for young black men.
The problem is that we don’t love each other. Not even a little bit. That Golden Rule thing would take care of so much that is wrong. When a person is pulled over by a police officer they should consider how it must feel to walk up to that car window hoping and praying that this is just a routine traffic stop and not some psychopath ready to shoot. If you were the one walking up to the car wouldn’t you feel safer if you could see the driver’s hands on the wheel? Wouldn’t you be more pleasant to someone who treated you with respect and complied with the requests you make in order to do your job? Of course you would.
A police officer who has noticed an expired license plate or a tail light out might want to consider that the driver already feels uncomfortable. If the rolls were reversed wouldn’t simple politeness and respect be appreciated? Using the opportunity to prove to yourself that you are tough and in charge would be likely to get negative results. Arrogance has no place in a job described as “to protect and serve”.
If I really have to choose sides, well I am on my side. I hope I am on the side of what’s right and kind. I am trying.