The power, of life and death, granted to our community protectors, must come with training, alike parental responsibility, where compassion governs force.
Michael Brown. Tamir Rice. Eric Garner. Walter Scott. Freddie Gray. How many more children of our society must die before our parental instincts wake up? How many more families, and lives, must be destroyed before we recognize the brutality institutionalized, the grievous injuries inflicted?
Yes, this topic twists my heart. I have first hand experience of excessive force by police, of egregious rush to judgment, of vindictive prosecution that brushes all human considerations aside. It hurt me. But even more, it continues to hurt my children.
And while I, and others like me, may work to salvage the lives of our children, society as a whole fragments. Mistrust fills minds. The sight of figures of authority brings disgust and even fear into minds and hearts; I too turn my eyes away from cops, or lawyers, no longer ‘officers of the law’ in my mind. And our meager efforts cannot stitch a tattered social fabric back together, one in which our children continue to suffer inhuman injustices.
Brutalization. Dehumanization. Torture. Enhanced interrogation techniques. Exploitation. These, and other habits, are all practiced by law enforcement today. “Tough Love,” some call it. Tough policing. Have we forgotten the nightmarish, extreme vision of an Orwellian society? It matters not that it is a so-called democracy – one of the largest in the world, where billionaires have become president-makers – that employs such methods. These ways are inhuman, subhuman, and lacking in wisdom and compassion.
“Show me something better, Rian, if you think our methods are broken,” said Hofsheier to me. A senior manager in a large corporation I’d been employed in, way back in the past. A pragmatic man, one who subscribed to the ‘get along, go along’ culture inbred in such large profit machines, a millionaire enriched by a growing corporate giant who loved tinkering with and renovating old antique cars at home. He talked about the organization’s ‘ranking and rating’ system for recognition of its employees, one that employed a distribution curve to eliminate a significant fraction of the employee population, a system I’d then called ‘ranting and raving.’
Yes, there is something better. Family. Community. A shared consciousness, oneness. The opposite of individualism: George Orwell painted the nightmare in 1949, traumatized by the great war, but may also have driven us toward it, likely with no intention of doing so, by his advocacy of extreme individualism. Rampant individualism, and self-interest, isn’t what builds a family and community. I think what we need are selfless actions that hurt ourselves more than those we inflict such acts upon. Did you not see the mother in Baltimore who cuffed her hooligan teen child in public? Her anguish, and anger, were undoubtedly symptoms of her compassion and love. Did that work? You only have to ask the teenage son.
You want to be tough on crime? To employ tough policing to discourage crime? Then do so as any parent would. Solve as many other problems that lead to such behavior first. Be tough, yes, but more importantly, be humane. Let that be seen, felt, believed. Use force not to exclude, not to eliminate, but to resolve differences, to bring the young, the immature, into a better way of life. Above all, be sure of your humanity, knowledge, and wisdom, before being tough.