I’m trying to be fair about it... I’ve been studying some positions taken by those outside of my political and social comfort zone to see if I might safely broaden my perspective and understanding.
I grew up with values that were considered non-negotiable. For the most part, they were straight forward and simple – like the Ten Commandments. Add to that a respect for everyone’s legacy and that everyone has inherent individual value.
I’m finding that issues like systemic racism, war and cultural differences are not simply dissected, however.
“If we are humble and empathetic, we open ourselves to learn all sides of an issue and can become equipped to work on peaceful solutions,” author Sue Wally Schlesman wrote.
There is no doubt that the core values of our democratic society mandate us to take care of the unfortunate and defend those who are oppressed. Our ancestors fought for that cause when America was born of the Revolutionary War.
Through the years, it was the faith community that took on the mission to show love by bringing justice to the marginalized and provision to the needy. The fact that many hospitals are named after religious orders and patron saints testifies to us that it was the church rather than government or political action groups that fostered public education and health care.
I’m afraid that dismissing time-honored values simply because they are no longer popular or politically correct is short-sighted and tragically foolish. In the long run, it eventually paves the way for anarchy, which we see being played out before our eyes.
“The end result is just a value system that is no different than basic humanism,” Schlesman wrote.
Do the headlines of the last few months affirm that we have the ability within ourselves “to lead ethical lives of personal fulfillment that aspire to the greater good?” So say the humanists.
I was pleased to be in on the presentation of another significant donation by a private citizen to the Amory Police Department for a new vehicle for the K9 officer on the force. The citizen, along with his sister, also provided the endowment for the dog and for its future replacement. What made the event even more heartening in the face of the movement calling for defunding of police is that this citizen does not live in the jurisdiction served by the force he endows.
I visited briefly with Amory Police Chief Ronnie Bowen after the presentation by Edward Coale, Jr. He told me that he is convinced that Coale represents a silent majority who support law enforcement.
“We all know there’s room for improvement, and that applies just as much to the police,” Bowen told me.
I read the transcript of an interview of a political organizer who proposed the restructuring of law enforcement per the demands of the self-proclaimed progressives to replace publicly funded law enforcement with a coalition of community control sustained by what is termed “participatory budgeting.”
I never could sort out how that would work from my reading of the narrative. Proposed alternatives to police, according to this organizer, included a team of mental health specialists, substance abuse counselors, street outreach workers and survivor advocates. I wonder if they could respond to a call to 911 for emergency service more quickly and competently?
According to Bowen, police officers have basic training in all those areas but reach out to specialists for assistance as the case calls for them.
“We average 52 hours per year of training per officer. That’s over twice what is required of us. Police are the fastest responders to calls for service. When people call, they need help immediately,” he said.
Through the pen of the ancient prophet Isaiah, God commanded his people to “seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause.” It’s an outworking of our faith.
The true spirit of public service offsets the marginal remuneration received by a vision to serve the cause of public safety and maintaining a quality of life that inspires the citizenry to pursue the rewards of right living. It’s the sacrifice and leadership that contributes to the greater good for generations to follow.