The Divided State Of America

Whether your stance is "Black Lives Matter", "Blue Lives Matter", or "All Lives Matter", we all need to do better. I read numerous articles and postings on social media that address the recent events in the United States, and I've come to the conclusion that there is work to be done by all of us. The onus doesn't fall on one particular group, we are all responsible for the state of our country.

I recently read a post on social media that I partially agreed with - the author of the post stated that our police do not need to be retrained, the public does. This stance raises several questions in my mind; How can you say the police do not need to be retrained when a citizen is thrown to the ground during a traffic stop and the video surveillance is hidden for a year? How can you claim it is not the police, but the citizens of these United States that need to be trained when a therapist who was trying to comfort a patient is shot and the officer could not explain why he pulled the trigger? How can you say the police do not need to be retrained when numerous Black males have been killed at the hands of the officers who swore to protect and serve?

I consider myself to be a law abiding citizen. Granted, I have exceeded the speed limit from time to time, but that is the extent of the crimes I have committed. But, recent events make me leery of the image of Five-O in my rearview mirror. I'll be honest, if my taillight is out unbeknownst to me and there are flashing lights behind me, do I really want to pull over? If I don't respond fast enough for the officer will I become another statistic?

Don't get me wrong, I am sure being a police officer is not an easy job. I know it must be difficult dealing with horrific crime scenes and difficult people. But, how much vetting is done before these individuals are given a badge and a gun? Is enough being done to ensure the right people are doing the job? By no means am I saying all cops are bad - they aren't, I'm related to one. However, something is obviously broken and it needs to be fixed. Starting with the belief that we, the public, are the enemy and must be stopped.

And here comes the portion of the post I agree with - we need to train our children. Children are very impressionable and they mimic the things they see and hear. We should be more mindful of what we are teaching our youth through the things we say and the lifestyle we display before them. Children should be taught to respect and obey authority. As I stated before, children follow by example - so, adults should obey and respect authority as well. Having said that, those in positions of authority should behave in a manner that is worthy of respect and the obedience of the public. What would be the purpose of compliance to an officer who has no respect or regard for the life of the person he or she is confronting? The answer to the problem is not one sided. Much like marriage, all parties must be willing to do their part in order for it to work.

I am not saying the loss of lives were justified - they were not. However, I believe the outcome of the incidents would have been much different had more extensive vetting been done on police officers in conjunction with better training. Aren't there better ways to defuse a hostile situation besides deadly force? Or is a better question - are police officers taught other ways to defuse a hostile situation besides using deadly force? Once a life is taken it cannot be undone. There are no "do-overs." My immediate thought when I see a Black male being detained by a police officer should not be, "Lord, please let that Black man walk away with his life." Truth be told, those exact words came out of my mouth on my way back from Philadelphia over the weekend.

Is it possible for all of us to earnestly consider what we can do to make things better, regardless of our differences? Or am I too much of an optimist?