Updated: Jun 12
I already called. Many times.
It's actually strange to me that I have called 911 so many times. My life has been peaceful. Almost enchanted. That's how blessed my years have been. Yes, life has been so good that I think of it as charmed.
Still, I can hear it in my head: "911, what is your emergency?" And I calmly tell them what the problem is. I wait. They come. Problem solved.
But while that has been my experience, that has not been every experience every time for everybody.
Don't get me wrong. I am pro-police. I was reprimanded as a young man for calling a policeman a "cop." I didn't think the term was derogatory. I still don't. But I was told in no uncertain terms that it was policeman, not cop. (Now it would be police officer).
My first encounter with a law officer came when I was still a teenager.
One dark night an impatient driver rode my bumper all the way up the lonely curves of Route 55 to the top of Cook Gap Mountain. I'm an amiable character. First chance, I got out of his way. It was at the top of the hill. I merged off the road into the gravel lot of the saw mill. The hasty tail sped on past me. But behind my impatient neighbor was a cruiser with one of those bubble gum machines on top. He pulled in behind me and the blue lights started spinning.
To me it was a misunderstanding. I hopped out and began walking back to explain that I was just being kind and letting the car go in front of me. Don't laugh.
As you expect, I found out very quickly that my response was not acceptable. A harsh and forceful voice ordered me back into my vehicle. I quickly complied.
Turns out, in my haste to get out of the other driver's way, I had neglected to use my right turn signal. My failure could have caused an accident.
Please know, while I was surprised, confused, frustrated, and even a bit disoriented, I assumed all the blame for that incident. He was just doing his job. It wasn't his fault that I didn't know to sit still, with my hands on the wheel, and my window down to wait for his instructions.
Who knows how many dangerous experiences he had endured during routine traffic stops?
So, in my discombobulated state, I gave him my student ID instead of my driver's license. He acted suspicious. He did not give me a ticket. I went away more aware of my signal use responsibilities, and very clear on the appropriate way to cooperate in the future.
Another time (on the same road, going the other direction, and also at night), I came to a roadblock. I saw the lights almost a mile ahead. I drove slowly while I dug around in the car looking for my wallet.
It was under my seat.
But when the officer looked into my window, he immediately accused me and my brother of switching seats on the way up to the roadblock. I was embarrassed. I explained why I had slowed down. He sent us on our way.
Once again, I took the blame.
I shouldn't have driven so slow. It looked suspicious. I should have had my wallet in my pocket.
This is my nature. If there is a problem, it's my fault. Which is well and good. If it's your fault then there is little that I can do about it. If it's my fault, then I can fix it. Or so goes my line of thinking.
To my knowledge every other interaction I have ever had with a police officer has been positive. Even when a Florida State Trooper gave me a ticket for doing way over the speed limit (while I was eating a meatball sub), he treated me kindly and respectfully as he wrote me my citation.
I could tell you many other stories. Let's move on instead.
Paul told the Roman believers to submit to those who are in authority. "There is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God." If I resist those who have rightful authority over me, then I am resisting God Himself. And, there will be hell to pay for it.
The apostle went further. The authorities do not punish us for doing good. They exist to stamp out crime. Paul asks, "What's wrong with you? Why don't you have a proper fear and respect for those in positions of power? Do things that are good, and you will be commended." Then the strongest statement of all is made: "He (yes, the executive: the police officer) is the minister of God to you for good."
Violate the law: be afraid. He carries arms for a reason. He is God's servant sent to bring revenge. He is an instrument of God's anger.
Still more. Paul pointed out that even if there was no threat of damage, we who are Christians should submit to authorities if only for the sake of a clear conscience. Their position and responsibility demands that we honor them.
And, I do.
If you wear the badge. Thank you.
You serve and protect. We are grateful.
Still, those who are given great power are also to be held to high standards. Personally I do not believe there is systemic racism in our police departments. But that is only based upon my very limited experience. And, it is at least partially a result of my disposition of respect for those who hold the power of the sword. Of course there are individual exceptions. Of course, all departments are not equal.
Power corrupts. Perhaps the best officer has made selfish decisions a few times and regrets doing so. I do not know.
It is amusing to see people speak with such confidence as they belch out nonsense.
Defund the police? Really? I refuse to use the adjectives such fools deserve.
But there are crooked pastors. There are dishonest pharmacist, evil doctors, abusive parents, inept teachers, etc. Bad eggs in every basket.
Don't throw the baby out with the bathwater.
It's not either/or. I don't have to pick between #BLM and #ThinBlueLine. I refuse to do so. Both mantras are being used by some against the other and to increase division. Not to mention an unhealthy serving of self-justification.
I do not deny that without the police our society would descend rapidly into chaos. Worse chaos.
I do recognize that Black Lives Matter too!
What I'm not sure about is the honesty of those who shout the loudest on each side. Truth is true when it's popular AND when it's not. And every house had better judge itself before someone else has to step in.
When an officer of the law goes too far: say so. I don't care if George Floyd was a lifelong criminal or not. I don't care what he did the day before he died. Officers are not authorized to carry out executions. Due process. Even for the worst among us. Due process.
If an officer is legitimately threatened. That's different. Use full and maximum force. "Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil." (Ecclesiastes 8:11)
So, no. I have not lifted my fist for black power. I did not post a black box in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. I do not post daily reminders that I support the police.
I believe in equality of opportunity under the law for every ethnic group. And though the laws may be on the books to provide that, broken men find ways to circumvent those laws to their own advantage. This is not ok. It doesn't matter who is gaining unfair benefits or being mistreated. It is wrong. Every man was created with equal value to every other man. We are not equal in ability (white men can't jump), but we are equal in worth.
Some have NOT been treated as if they are equal. That, we must never defend.
Black lives do matter too. Too many times they have not mattered. To police. To other blacks. To whites. To anybody. But the movement is associated (rightly or wrongly) with people and philosophies that do not help anyone. Regardless of their color.
But black lives do matter to God. Black souls matter. Red souls matter. And every soul is stained crimson and scarlet from the sin we all inherited from Adam. With respect: every policeman is a sinner too. Every person needs a savior.
I've called the police a few times when I didn't have to call them. Lawmen have enough to deal with without me bringing them into some piddling matter that I could handle myself. I wish I could go back. Hopefully I will do better in the future. The distrust that does exist between competing elements of our culture might be well founded. Perhaps there have been bad decisions on all sides. We would be surprised if anyone could stand in innocence. But may God help me to be a man of peace. Not the world's twisted concept of peace. That's just a transfer of influence from the "haves" to the "have-nots." And they seldom do any better once they become the "haves." May I be a man who brings peace through the gospel to every category and subcategory of humanity.
My enemy is not black, or blue, or white. My enemy is the red dragon of John's Revelation.
Perhaps I will have to call on the police again someday. I hope not. But first, may I be faithful to call on Jesus and to faithfully inform all around me that they too can call on Him. He is able to save the most extreme of all violators.
But He does not save us from social injustice. He saves us from eternal damnation.