Gratitude for the Thankless Job

blue-line I am an ambivert with a sensory integration disorder. Fancy words in a world that obsesses about labels and how they can provide excuses for behavior and decisions in life. The long and short of it is that I have trouble sometimes with sensory over stimulation, and trouble all the time connecting with people. The extroverted part of me entertains and delights, whereas the introverted part of me hides, because even when shown, people don’t want to see that, no entertainment value there. If I am being completely honest, most of the time I feel subhuman, a beast in a cage, providing a show for a world I will never belong to.

Before you give up on this, thinking it is some sad single-for-the-holidays-again piece, it isn’t. This is a piece of thanksgiving, and asking for thanksgiving, tis the season after all.

For I can think of one sect of people that are never thought of as human. They are rarely thought of at all, and even more seldom thanked. Police. The current social hatred for cops cannot be denied, and the laser focus on the .5% (probably less) of national unfortunate “encounters” with law enforcement only perpetuates the de-humanized image of cops.

Without fail when I present to a critic the “what would you do” question…what would you do if a mentally ill person charged at you with a hunting knife, or if they were threatening kids at a playground. What would you do? The answer is always some variation of, “It’s not the same, it was a cop.” I will say that to some degree they are right, it’s not the same, because even an off-duty cop has the obligation to lay down their life to save yours.

This holiday season, on the eve of Thanksgiving, I urge you to shift your mind and think of cops as human beings that have the almost extinct drive to protect & serve all people in their community, blind of race, creed, or sexual orientation.

I am so thankful for all of my family in blue, because that is what law enforcement is, a lifestyle choice that makes all immediate blood relatives into blue-blood relatives. In this turbulent world my gratitude for being a cop’s daughter is beyond words. It made me strong, independent, aware, and above all, showed me the dire need for compassion in this world.

Cops will miss every important event in their family’s lives if they need to. At a very young age I knew this, I wasn’t tickled by the thought of my dad missing my winning goal, but I understood. I understood that what my dad did was important, and was proud that my dad makes this world a better place. Cops have to cope with the worst of humanity, and do it with customer service in mind in our greedy culture that is so quick to sue. They are the ones to treat homeless with dignity, even though homelessness is not illegal, it is the police that are called when they are a “nuisance” to our delicate sensibilities. Police are charged with upholding the law, but if you knew them, you would know that they are men and women who want to show the world great humanity, compassion and sacrifice.

As you watch these news stories of officer involved shootings, know that taking a life is the absolute last option for officers, it is also the worst option, because it can result in the end of their career, and depending on how much the national media sinks its sensationalized teeth in it, can have that person black-balled from all law enforcement agencies. I have personally known a family that had to move for their own safety. All because one human being charged with protecting their community at the risk of their own life made the decision to take another human being’s life. The weight of that person’s life will always weigh on them. Next time you go to judge a shooting, ask yourself if you could make the decision to take a life; better yet, ask yourself if you were going to be killed by a stranger, could you make the shot to save those around you, or would you hide?

All I am asking is for us civilians to show gratitude to those who have chosen a life that serves us in every way a person has to give. I beg you to see them for what they are, human beings that are fathers and mothers, daughters and sons. In our current social climate, people who wear the badge are being hunted like animals.

We as civilized beings need to have people that are willing and able to sacrifice their time & lives, that give us the freedom to hide behind our computers and write glib judgements about life and death decisions.

It is time for us to express our gratitude. Please, if you see any law enforcement, go up and thank them. Right now is a very dangerous and scary time to wear a badge. If we can acknowledge those that serve us faithfully as human beings, maybe we can start to make the world a little brighter, even if just for a moment in a police officer’s eyes.