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Thursday, January 8, 2015

My Unapology

The hot topics in my Facebook and Twitter feeds continue to be #blacklivesmatter and #bluelivesmatter. I understand. Dip into my background, my varied interests, and you will, too. Coming from a law enforcement family, having worked in it for several years, I obviously have many law enforcement friends and family still. Having moved from it into high school teaching (an arguably more liberal profession) and then into full on hippie-hood, I obviously have many liberal friends and, ok, no family, just friends. I went from leaning right as a youngster to standing upright at the left as an adult. These perspectives have made me who I am today, taught me much, and conflict often with the black and white opinions offered by those I care about.

Many feel I've sold out, forgotten my roots, turned my back on my past by not staunchly supporting #bluelivesmatter, Ferguson PD, and the NYPD's handling of Eric Garner. Where is my loyalty? How dare I question the righteousness of what has been done in these and so many similar situations? Benedict Arnold! Wait. I recall vividly that when I had to turn in my own boyfriend, a deputy in my own department, at my own station, for statutory rape, I was shunned, alienated, and told outright that I shouldn't have "ratted him out" since they didn't when they suspected the same was going on. That's the type of loyalty I'm expected to display for all officers of the law, because that's what it truly means to be a brother or a sister. Well, I can't. I won't. I'm the first to say that the overwhelming majority of those in law enforcement are amazing souls with unmatched bravery and caring. I'm also the first to say that the few that are bad are BAD and should be sussed out and exiled from the profession immediately, so as not to sully the reputations of the many and bring harm to those who should be able to trust them. I haven't forgotten anything. Anything. I just don't think it's as black and white as I'm told it is.

Others feel I'm blind to the bigger picture by supporting National Law Enforcement Appreciation Day, that I don't understand the issues facing the black community today, that I need to just pick a side already. How can I support the big, bad po-po? How dare I offer up anecdotes to shine light on the good that officers do, the pressures and ugliness they face every day? If you really cared about our society, you'd open your mind to the fact that the 5-0 are nothing but egotistical, power-mad, racists with happy trigger fingers! Wait. I recall vividly the times when my brothers and sisters in uniform have been faced with potentially deadly situations and have successfully walked away sans serious injury to any party or have been in therapy, forever changed and heartbroken by the life they've had to take when left with no other option. I've known more than my fair share of officers killed in the line of duty. I'm supposed to put that understanding away for the sake of taking a side? I won't. It's not as black and white as I'm told it is.

Situations, individual situations, require deep thought, exhaustive questioning, and a wide open mind. Those things require us to let go of our fear of potentially having to change our minds, being wrong, and facing an angry majority alone. That's scary. I get that. What is scarier to me is seeing things as so cut and dried, refusing to broaden ourselves, passing those traits onto our children, so that we find ourselves with yet another generation of folk who think there are only two sides to every story.

By all, I'm asked to apologize for my perspective. Whatever that perspective may be, it's never far enough on their side for them. I won't. I refuse to apologize for my broadened perspective. I revel in it. I appreciate that my life experiences have brought me to this point. This doesn't mean I don't ever see things as right and wrong. I surely do. I'm not a fence-sitter. It just means that, thankfully, I have surrounded myself with different people and walked such different paths so that I am quite comfortable being unapologetic for a wider view. My goals for myself are to continue to broaden my views, allow for my mistakes in thought and action, be open to change and, I think most importantly, pass that onto my son. It is for him that I have made all these uncomfortable transitions and for him that I will continue to do so.

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