Three Thoughts On Current Events

As protests continue in the United States over the killing of George Floyd in police hands, I, along with most of the country, have been thinking about racial justice, reconciliation, and how to move forward.

Today, I am writing two personal stories and one observation. My thoughts on the topic today.

I may not have the same thoughts tomorrow and that’s OK. Change is good and thoughts evolve. Buckle up.

Say their names

Meditations in Motion

Readers of my blog know I have been struggling with long runs recently.

Physically, I feel fine, but somewhere along the way, I begin to feel hopeless and break down in tears.

My long run on Monday, however, was going well. I had gotten past the point in the run where I begin to feel shaky and was running on a bike path, heading for home.

During the pandemic, there have often been chalk drawings on the path – hopscotch, pictures of flowers, an inspiring message.

Monday, I read this phrase, printed in all capital letters: “SAY THEIR NAMES”.

As I continued down the path, every three feet or so a name was printed.

George Floyd, Tamir Rice, Breonna Taylor, William Howard Green, Michael Dean, Isaiah Lewis, Cynthia Fields, Antwan Rose, Atatiana Jefferson…

And on and on.

For half a mile.

All were unarmed citizens killed by the police.

As I read name after name, a lump formed in my throat. The more names I read, the larger the lump grew until I could not breathe.

I stopped as the tears flowed.

Each one of those names represents a person, a real flesh-and-blood human being, whose life was tragically cut short.

Someone must have spent hours on their knees writing their names, in tribute and acknowledgment.

What have I done? Not much.

Policemen are heroes

Meditations in Motion

I have not had many interactions with the police in my life. I have gotten one speeding ticket, which I deserved (77 mph in a 55 zone) and the policeman who gave it to me was polite and professional.

That changed a few years ago on Saint Patrick’s Day, a Saturday and also my grandson’s birthday, as we were headed to his party.

It was early afternoon. We had just gotten off the highway and entered the flow of traffic on a busy two-lane state road when I noticed the car in front of us behaving strangely.

It was weaving from one side of our lane to the other, speeding up, then slowing down.

I believe the driver of that car is drunk,” I told my husband. “I’m calling the police.

He may be texting,” Bill replied. “Let’s wait and see.

Just then, at a stoplight, he opened his car door, leaned out, and threw up.

I dialed 911.

I gave the dispatcher our location and a description of the car along with the license plate number. She told me help was on the way and kept me on the line.

Just then, the car swerved into oncoming traffic and I exclaimed, “Oh no! Oh no!

Luckily, cars coming the other way were able to avoid a collision by moving over to the shoulder of the road.

After the near-miss, the driver of the car ahead of us stepped on the gas and disappeared from sight but I could hear sirens coming from behind.

When we got to the next stoplight, two police cars had the driver boxed in and were approaching the car.

I eventually had to give a written statement and found out the man was convicted of drunk driving. His blood-alcohol content was more than three times the legal limit.

As the policemen approached the car, I realized immediately how brave they were.

I would imagine, as arrests go, this one was pretty ordinary. It was made during the daylight, plenty of people were around, there was no violence, anger, or bloodshed.

However, the driver of the car may have been on drugs, he may have been planning to ram the squad cars to get away, he may have been armed.

But those policemen (and policewomen) never know what danger may be lurking in a seemingly benign stop.

Nevertheless, they approach the car. Every day. I couldn’t do it.

One body with many parts

Meditations in Motion

If you read social media these days, You may get the impression that either police are a bunch of power-drunk bullies or protestors are out-of-control anarchists, depending on whose posts you read. Memes abound.

Neither of these characterizations is true.

And both are true.

Champions of the police must admit that there are some policemen who could benefit from conflict-resolution training with some anger-management classes thrown in for good measure.

Those who sympathize with the protestors must acknowledge that some of the protests have devolved into looting and chaos, which do not promote the message of racial justice and reconciliation.

We need to talk to each other as people, not caricatures. We must recognize each other’s humanity.

And we need to do it now.

Our country, maybe even our lives, depends on it.

“There is one body, but it has many parts. But all its many parts make up one body… It didn’t matter whether we were Jews or Gentiles, slaves or free people. We were all given the same Spirit to drink.” 1 Corinthians 12:12 – 13

 

You can find the places I link up here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

84 comments

  1. thank you.
    I worked alongside many many law enforcement officers as a social worker. Like any profession, some were very good at handling out of control people, handled their work professionally and legally. Some were power mongers doing that job to push people around. They needed to be stopped. The looters have taken advantage of people peacefully protesting, and that’s unfair to all. The looters are behaving illegally while the protesters are within their American rights. This is a respect issue, not only color. A group of people now don’t like anyone different, gay, fat, Baptist, brown, for gun control, women. Lately many of my friends are telling how they have been mistreated, one for being Native American, one for being Hispanic. It’s a lack of understanding and respect and should be corrected regardless of politics. We are all Americans, we all deserve respect under the law. If someone is taking advantage of their profession to hurt others, they need to be rehabilitated.
    IMHO as someone who has seen much too much discrimination

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Eloquent thoughts, Laurie, and I would expect no less from you. I can imagine the impact of those names on the trail . . . as for the looting, it saddens and frustrates me as well, but I encourage you to watch Trevor Noah’s remarks on the social contract: it certainly didn’t make me condone looting, but it helped me understand what’s driving it. Excellent post!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think the thing that frustrates me the most is that some people lump the looters in with the protestors. No! People who are looting have nothing to do with the people who are trying to achieve racial justice other than the fact they are both angry at the same underlying injustice. My husband showed me the Trevor Noah video this morning. Agree 100%.

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  3. That bike path tribute must have been extremely powerful. Like you, I don’t feel like I’m doing enough. I’ve written a couple of blog posts but even those don’t really offer any solutions. There’s not a lot of protesting going on in Gettysburg. Last week was my work at home week (I have to stay out of the office every other week). I listened to two amazing podcasts on racial justice. I figure the more I learn the more I can help. I’ve also vowed not to let my feelings get hurt by the message that I’m a racist. If that’s someone’s perspective then it’s up to me to work to change it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • A year ago, I joined the FB group “Be the Bridge”. I had the same reaction as you – I have to get over my hurt feelings at being called a racist. I need education and I got it from joining the group. by the way, you have to work to join the group. There are assignments!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Wow! So impressed with the anonymous person who took the time to write all of those names. Humanity! And wonderful that they wrote them exactly on the path that you would find them. Like a runners version of a message in a bottle! You are right on, I think in your assessment and so true. Facebook is really my primary SM and the lack of critical thinking, the all or nothing views that characterize many posts are disheartening. Great post, wise woman that you are. Blessings, Michele p.s. Please don’t tell any of my English teachers that I ended a sentence with a verb.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Exactly like a message in a bottle! The thing that bugs me the most on FB is that people are not really even posting their own thoughts. They are just re-posting someone else’s memes. My mom was an English teacher. She would be horrified at my grammar, I am sure! 🙂

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  5. Hi Laurie. Another beautifully thought-provoking, elegantly crafted post. You are so right about caricaturing and generalising, or whatever we want to call it. And yes, there are good cops, bad cops, and all sorts of cops in between. But another phenomenon we encounter all the time with large institutions, such as the police force and those running it in any country, is a resistance to change, to criticism of any kind. The thing is, when a thing is wrong it’s wrong, whether it’s that cop who killed George Floyd, or those looters who took advantage of the situation, and also, unfortunately, allowed some to deflect attention from the real nub of all those protests. Here in Ireland, the Catholic Church has brought so much odium and damage on itself not just for the wrongs perpetrated by certain priests and religious against so many innocent people, children and young unmarried mothers, for example, but that they have been so slow to admit to it, tobface up to it, and slower again to try and make up for it. The worst aspect of it all, perhaps, is how the good cops, the good priests, the good teachers, and even the adequate ones are lost and maybe grow disillusioned amid all the shouting, the sound and the fury. We have to be able to examine the actions of any institution, and for the good of us all, not allow the wagons to be circled, and the bad guys be protected. I should add my own dad was a cop, and liked nothing better than resolving a dispute rather than fuelling one.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, I saw that resistance to change in education when I was a teacher. Teachers who had been there the longest became entrenched in their ways, which were not always the best ways. The good thing about teaching was that you could close the door, enjoy the kids, and shut out most of the conflict and stress. You are lucky you had a good example to follow from your father. Thank you for your very kind words, Enda.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. This is pure and sweet reasonableness, and I love every word. Yes, I would be the most chicken hearted police woman of all times. (Not to mention how I’d hate being in a total stranger’s space bubble to apply cuffs and transport.) Our situation right now is untenable, and the loudest voices seem to be speaking in black and white when the real situation calls for a much more nuanced understanding of human nature. I’m forcing myself to listen when every molecule of me wants to cover my ears.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Thank you. I was married to a police officer for 20 years. I know how hard the job is. And, I know there are bad apples in the basket, too. As the grandmother of two black boys, I’m learning to see the other side and it is frightening. Thank you for sharing this.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I appreciate your perspective, Laurie. In the end, people are people, regardless of their color or their occupation or their nationality, etc. We all can be good on our best days and bad on our worst. We must have grace for each other for healing to occur. I’m glad you did your part to get the drunk driver off the road. That’s a lesson for all of us to call for help when we see it’s needed.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I have often thought the same thing, Laurie…the courage it takes to walk into the unknown every day. I’ve known 11 officers/troopers in my life. Two, in particular, literally saved my life when I was 11 years old. And 3 are people I would be afraid of if they pulled me over. I can’t let those 3 label ALL…which I know is easy to do when the 3 make the most noise.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Police are heroes until they see a black person and that’s the problem. One day I’ll share a story with you about what happened to my brothers. For now I will say this, they are lucky to be alive. Their names could’ve been written along the path you ran that day.

    Now, are all police bad? No! My neighbor who is no longer with us was a cop. He was one of the good guys. I can only imagine how that police stop with the drunk guy would’ve gone if he, the driver was black. And that’s the problem. The rules change instantaneously when we get stopped.

    As I said to someone yesterday, in addition to whatever training police get, I recommend intense psychological evaluations every six months. But even with that, our hearts need to be changed. I agree with you 100% when you say we must recognize each others humanity because yes, our lives and our world depend on it, however, unless God changes the heart of a person like Derek Chauvin, he will never recognize another’s humanity.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That is horrible about your brothers! I would love to hear the story someday.

      I think psychological evaluations at regular intervals is a good idea. Only God can initiate a change like the one you describe. I pray that He does exactly that, even though Chauvin will probably spend the rest of his life in jail.

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  11. There are no easy answers to the protests and the police and the way in which our so-called president is handling this situation. I fear that people want things to change quickly not realizing this is the beginning of a long process of adjustments and understanding that will eventually lead to a stronger better nation. So much noise, so little listening at the moment. It’s frightening and tiring.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Your musings are thoughtful, wise, and encouraging, friend.

    Ignorant folks throw gasoline on the fire when they paint whole groups of people with a broad brush.

    You model a better way.

    Bless you, Laurie.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Thank you for your thoughtful and balanced post, Laurie. There are certainly many sides to what we are witnessing, and our perspectives are shaped by our own experiences. I hope that, as a result of this moment in time, we will all be more open to seeing others with greater understanding.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Absolutely agree on all of this! The police are not demons. But they are not angels either. Mostly, they are people trying to do a very difficult and dangerous job under often trying circumstances. However, there definitely needs to be some changes in policing best practices, more training, and some localities definitely need better vetting of those they are hiring for this job.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, there must be some systemic changes to how we police our communities. More training, more assistance, and better vetting. Of course, that all means more money…

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  15. I could feel your empathy, it is lovely, thank you for sharing your thoughts. These are hard times, and placing blame will not be as effective as taking responsibility. It is heartbreaking, the lives lost, and hopefully things will improve soon. I wish you more strength and heart to keep running.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. I have begun to think of the police as I think of the Catholic priest scandal. They are not all bad but the ones that are have been protected by their own for long enough. It’s time for the police, as a whole, to take a serious accounting, begin to correct the internal problems, and beg for forgiveness. The Catholic Church will never be the same again. No one in their right mind would leave their chid alone with a priest. The same is true of the police force. The majority of them are heroes just as the majority of priests are true men of God. But we cannot go on as we are. It’s time for change.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, I do think the “bad apples” have been allowed to keep their jobs far too long. They need to be weeded out and guidelines put in place to detect them sooner. It is time for a systemic change.

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  17. This is really thought provoking, Laurie. As Christians, we should be leaning in more now, seeking wisdom from above, and not depending on our own understanding. Thanks for sharing. Many blessings to you!

    Liked by 1 person

  18. The truth is that people are capable of being saints or sinners as the old expression goes. We can try to rise above baser instincts or embrace the anger or other dark emotions that live in all of us to some degree. All police aren’t bad, all protestors aren’t violent, but people can be bad and violent. Tryling to not generalize other people is hard and most people live on generalizations.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That old expression contains a lot of wisdom. We are all capable of both wonderful and horrible deeds. we need to get past the generalizations. they are not serving us well.

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  19. What a powerful moment that must have been, seeing the names on the sidewalk. It’s almost to much to take in, that even one has died so unjustly. That so many have–it’s just unthinkable.

    And I agree, many cops are heroes and take their lives in their hands. I’ve heard from some who are just as grieved as everyone else over these deaths. I don’t know what kinds of reforms or weeding-out processes are needed, but something has to change.

    I’m thankful you called the police on the drunk driver. We can imagine all too well what kind of tragedy might have occurred if he had been left on the road.

    I am so tired of the strident voices and the generalizations that any one group of people is all good or all bad. Every group, every individual is a mix. “We need to talk to each other as people, not caricatures. We must recognize each other’s humanity.” Amen.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Its just such an emotional time. Thinking of those that should not have been killed. The injustice in it is heart wrenching… & its so tough to think ALL cops are getting a bad name when so many are just doing so much good & helping so many people in communities. What a world we are living in.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Beautifully written piece Laurie. You actually inspired me to write a post of my thoughts as well. There are so many complicated layers to this situation and we all come from different perspectives. I have enjoyed the comments of your readers and appreciate the mature tone of this discussion. It is refreshing to read the thoughts of reasonable, educated and informed individuals.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Suzanne. I will look forward to reading your post. You are so right – there are no simple answers. I was relieved that I got no negative comments. I have to admit to holding my breath before I published the post.

      Liked by 1 person

  22. Laurie, my mom used to tell me that when she was a little girl, before she was hit by a car at age 11, that there was a policeman directing traffic at St. Helen’s School, the elementary school where she went. Mom said that policeman would escort groups of children across busy Dundas Street to ensure they did not run out into traffic, or a distracted driver (not texting back in 1937, but for whatever reason, drunk or otherwise) did not hit one of the kids. She said back then all the kids would fight to hold the policeman’s hand to cross the street to the school grounds. How different things are today, because a youngster would not have that respect that my mom’s generation, or, for the most part, our generation had. I respect what these officers, even EMS personnel do every day – they put their lives on the line, especially encountering a domestic situation.

    We had a sad story here in the Detroit area. A police officer and his partner were ambushed in Apri of 2017. The senior officer, with 14 years on the force, was shot in the head and his partner, a rookie, although stunned, had his wits about him, shot and killed the shooter and dragged his bleeding partner to safety. But how do you describe “safety” because the officer had severe injuries and lapsed into a coma, where he remained until May 31st when he passed away. His partner who “saved” him was killed the following year in a training accident – too bad because he had been a friendly face in the neighborhoods where he often ditched the patrol card and walked the beat on foot, doing a handstand or quick push-ups to amuse the youngsters or jumping into a pick-up basketball game.

    It is too bad there are bad apples in every facet in life – in my opinion, respect for elders, respect for uniforms, whether police, or military, seems to have gone by the wayside. Perhaps I am showing my age with my thinking, but I know every day that I belong to a simpler era – a more peaceful, non-contentious way of life.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Great story about your mom and her generation, Linda. You and I came of age in a different time. Policemen were not thought of heroes then. It’s incredible how fast a normal situation can devolve into chaos.

      That IS a sad story about both policemen. It is such a dangerous job. Even here in our little town, one of my son’s friends became a police officer and was shot. He was seriously injured but recovered and went back to the force. How he had the courage to go back, I’ll never know.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I always thought it was an interesting tale about how kids regarded police officers back in those days Laurie – my mom spoke of that often.

        We used to have policemen come to the school when we were young and they’d talk to us about crossing a street and looking both ways, not talking to strangers – all things our parents taught us, but perhaps teachers thought the message would be reinforced better hearing it from a police officer.

        Yes, I remembered that officer being shot, but it was never mentioned again – he died May 31st but they could not have a funeral at that time as they wanted almost all officers in state and some out-of-state officers to attend, and due to the protest marches here and other states, policemen were taking no days off and limited personal time, so they delayed the funeral until things calmed down. A totally needless death and a few months before this ambush, a canine officer named Collin Rose, had met the same fate. That young officer died the next day and his organs were donated. He was engaged to be married the following year and nearing his masters degree in dispute resolution. Shot be a bicyclist who is declared incompetent to stand trial. He was walking his beat, at a local University (where I went to school) but they had some crime at night, so he patrolled Detroit City streets around campus, as well as Wayne State University. I watched part of the funeral – very sad, they had his canine officer there as well canine officers from around the state and country.

        I don’t know how your son’s friend could return – I would go into any line of work but that, unless offered a desk job.

        Liked by 1 person

      • We used to have policemen come to our school too.

        Those police officers never know what they are going to run into when they respond to calls. It seems like everyone is armed these days.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I’ll bet they don’t do that nowadays. Yes, I heard a police commissioner speaking today in a news program. He said 10 years ago you’d have 10 openings for a policeman and 1,000 applicants; these days, it may be 10 openings and 10 applicants, so departments are desperate for officers, so they take what applies and don’t vet them properly.

        Liked by 1 person

      • We had a policeman who was the security officer at my high school when I still taught. Kids liked him. He was outgoing and talked to all of them. So sad that no one wants to be a cop!

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  23. This was a wonderful post. I agree there needs to be change. I know I’m not doing enough but the last few weeks have changed me. I hope and pray they’ve changed our nation too.

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  24. Thank you so much for this post. Your reasoned approach to both sides of policing is so well thought out, illustrated with the drunk driver story, and helps us realize most people are inherently good. Our son and his family just moved to NC and were walking along a path where names of the dead had been chalked., Sobering reminder that we have a long way to go.

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  25. There are so many aspects to all of this and so easily to misconstrue. So hard to get it right. I am looking upon this today (and only today for tomorrow I may see through different eyes) as people created in the image of God. We are all loved by Him and because He loved us, He sent His very Son to die for us. I do not have answers except Christ. But what other answer to any and all issues, problems, concerns is there! That’s all I know today. Thank you for putting your thoughts and ways on paper for me to read today.

    Liked by 1 person

  26. what a beautiful tribute to see whilst running. My son works in retail/deli & the sad thing in all this is that there are more & more customers accusing the staff of being racist, if the customers are in any way accidently not noticed or even after being acknowledged then giving them time to make a decision, the staff are accused of being racist (even people of the same heritage who work there) & sometimes its just for no reason at all. Thankfully they have great managers who are there if needed & sadly some people have been refused service & asked to leave for everyone’s safety. The funny thing is he stayed at one of his best mates place last night a beautiful family who are of the same heritage as the people who are calling him racist at his work.
    I love the scripture you used at the end, I will show him when he gets home.

    Liked by 1 person

  27. Thanks for this beautiful and balanced post. My heart aches for victims of police injustice, but I also think the vast majority of police are good people doing a dangerous and difficult job. Of course we need to weed out the bad ones.
    A lot of the progress on civil rights occurred in the era of Dr. Martin Luther King, in my youth, mainly through non-violent protests. I know people are upset over what has happened but I still think non-violence is the way.

    Liked by 1 person

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