Whose Side Are You On?

‘The test of a first rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposing ideas at the same time in your mind’– F.Scott Fitzgerald

I’m seeing so many posts whose message seems to be ‘You’re either with the cops or you’re with the protesters.’

I’m really finding it hard to process how black and white (no pun intended) everyone seems to think what’s going on in our streets is right now.

Can we support the fact that there are good cops who came into this work with a true desire to protect and serve? Can we acknowledge that there are cops who would never use the cover of their badge to intentionally inflict harm on others? Can we acknowledge that there are many, many cops who are as appalled by the murder of George Floyd as the rest of us? I can. I know and love several of these cops and am praying for their safety as I write. I feel great compassion for them for being lumped into the same group as the horrible cops.

Now, can we also acknowledge that if you’re a racist, there’s not a better job you can find than being a cop? You get to carry out your hateful, racist ways with a paycheck and complete impunity. So, given those facts, don’t you think that there’s probably a great deal of racists on the police department? Pretending it’s just a tiny fraction is just that, pretending. Being a cop is the perfect job for violent racists, so it stands to reason there would be more there than in a lot of other jobs. It doesn’t mean ALL of them are bad. It doesn’t even mean MOST of them are bad. It means there’s probably more than a few bad apples that are racist cops.

There are a lot of really good cops. There are a lot of really racist cops. Both of those statements can be true, without one nullifying the other.

Most of us choose professions because it’s our dream, or because there’s something within us that wants to make a difference. Some people choose their profession because there’s something evil twisted within them, and doing that job allows them to feed it.

This is the same scenario we see play out with clergy. Being raised Catholic; I have known many priests in my life. The majority of them were truly good men. They became priests because they loved God and wanted to serve the people. But there are also a lot of pedophile priests. Not a tiny fraction, but a disproportionate amount when compared with the general population. Why? Because they can carry out their evil while getting paid, and have complete impunity from prosecution for their crimes. I can say that there a lot of really good priests while also saying that there are too many pedophiles who have infiltrated the church and caused incalculable damage.

I think it’s very short-sighted to say ‘if you say this it means you’re against everyone who wears that uniform or that cassock.’ No, it doesn’t. It means both things are true. There are really good cops and really bad ones. There are really good priests and really bad ones.

I also think it is imperative that professions that could be a safe haven for the very worst in our society have a system set up to identify these people before they are put in positions to destroy lives.

I can support the good cops who are trying to do their jobs during a truly dangerous time. I can be grateful for the service they provide and have deep respect for them. I can also support the protesters who are exercising their first amendment rights to create much needed change in our law enforcement systems. And before you go there, note I said protesters. I didn’t say rioters or looters. I didn’t say violent vigilantes. They are all being lumped together, but they’re not together. Unfortunately, it often happens that when a group undertakes a righteous cause, there always seems to be those who infiltrate it for their own personal reasons that have nothing to do with the message. Don’t pretend it’s all one group, because it’s not.

So when I say I am with the protesters or march alongside them, it doesn’t mean I am against the police.

I am pro respect and gratitude for the truly good police officers and the difficult job they do. I am pro getting rid of the racists cops who have infected our departments across the country. I am pro standing up for the rights of the protesters who are marching for change within our law enforcement systems.

I am pro anyone who is willing to listen, make hard choices and do what’s necessary to end the hatred and division and work together to bring about ‘a more perfect union.’

That’s the America I want to help create and live in.

That’s whose side I’m on.

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