Blind to Brutality

Four little boys screeched, “Help us! They’re using batons and won’t stop! Lady, please help us! They’re beating us up! They might kill us. They’ll take me to jail! I didn’t do nothin'”  I quietly observed the boys’ laughter-filled playtime, slowly becoming more and more appalled at what they considered play.

Police brutality. They think it’s funny. The boys couldn’t have been more than seven. They already think brutality is funny. 

By the age of 12, I was a hopeless tomboy. I enjoyed horsing around with the guys much more than painting my nails or trying on my sister’s prom dress. I know what it’s like to have a childhood of accidentally going “too far” with wrestling and playing cops and robbers. It’s all in good fun. Welcome to a healthy childhood. 

But adding police brutality? Imagining the role of a “bad cop” misusing his authority? No, that wasn’t my childhood.

I know I’m not a parent. I realize it’s quite possible I’ll come back to to this post and disagree with my younger self after having actual parental experience. But at this point, all I have is frustration over the fact that our culture’s children have very little understanding of the sacredness of life. Many of them have even less respect for authority. 

I had a childhood packed to the hilt of learning respect and the difference between right and wrong. The current generation of children are learning their version of those things by watching media. They are also watching us — their parents and role models. 

Are we modeling wholesome characteristics which are worth them mirroring? Or, are we reacting in anger, sarcasm and cynicism and simply shrugging our shoulders and telling ourselves they’ll understand better when they grow up? 

A seven-year-old knew that a baton can kill. We need to stop shrugging our shoulders.

I Trusted a Cop 

One of my dearest supporters growing up was a cop. We were 3,200 miles apart but my day was either filled with two emails from him or an hour-long phone conversation. The only days I didn’t hear from him were holidays. If he “skipped” a day, he always warned me beforehand or gave me an extensive explanation later on.

Terry was the way I survived my teen years. Terry understood I needed him despite the fact that I wasn’t in trouble and he wasn’t pursuing me because I broke the law. My perception of cops was protected for 22 years because of Terry. Even when one of my closest friends became a black man and I started questioning the authenticity of law enforcement, I had Terry as proof that some cops understood their job goes beyond the badge.

During one phone conversation, Terry was anything but his upbeat self. He had always treated me as a “Prayer Warrior” despite my immature and naive ways. Brokenly, he asked me to pray for an unnamed 2nd-grader whom he had just picked up. The kid had drugs in his backpack — obviously belonging to his parents. There were no racial slurs. There was no major character judgments. There wasn’t even a violent desire to apprehend the parents and pay them back for what they had done to their son.

The only thing Terry wanted was to protect the boy and give the parents a second chance free of charge. He couldn’t do that last part; he was, after all, a cop. But he went about his job, praying every second of every day. He was not out to get an award. He wanted to make a difference. Even when it hurt.

Today, law enforcement is different. I respect that. I have memories myself of times where I feel as if certain parties of law enforcement could have done much, much better. Unfortunately, there have been moments where, out of shock, hurt and anger, I’ve joined the throng of people muttering, “Cops don’t do anything.”

It’s not true, though. There are still people out there exactly like Terry today. Yes, recent events have led me to wonder even more about what this world is coming to when someone is handed authority and a gun. But making blanket statements about the usefulness, trustworthiness and twistedness of all law enforcement is wrong. 

Be as wise as serpents and as gentle as doves. I’m not saying deny truth; but make every effort to solidify that what you believe about “that cop” is truth. This isn’t a story of Cops versus Citizen. Ultimately, this is a story of Broken versus Broken. This world sucks. 

Not all cops are bad. Not all cops can’t be trusted. When you title cops worthless, you are including the men and women who truly try to do their job in a Biblical way.

Be careful, dear ones. Don’t let your pain lead you to believe absolute truths that aren’t absolute truths.