May 08, 2017
We all like to think that our life experiences have taught us valuable lessons that we carry forward into each new day, helping us to avoid repeating mistakes or making bad choices. It's also helpful if we can learn from others' mistakes, so that we don't have to experience every bad consequence for ourselves. And so we take all of this information - our own previous experiences, the lessons learned from others, and any other facts and knowledge we've gained along the way, and we use all of this. We may think of ourselves as intelligent, educated, discerning, and even wise.
But how often do you make snap judgments or assumptions based on some generalization that you've not stopped to really explore? Lawyers get a bad rap, for example, with the assumption that all lawyers are manipulative and all of them feed off of the misfortunes of others for their own personal gain. Do you personally know any lawyers, though? Do they fit this generalization? I personally know quite a few lawyers, and I can't name even one of them who fits the generalization. As a matter of fact, most of them are really good people who have worked hard to educate themselves about the law, and to use that education for solid, positive purposes, to help others. Are there lawyers that fit the bad reputation? Sure there are. But should those bad apples have the power to over-ride your own wisdom and ability to think for yourself about attorneys, and to make you jump on board a generalization you don't actually even agree with? Think of other professions, specialties, industries, cultures, etc. where this is the case. Have you stopped to think, for yourself?
All the negative media focus right now on law enforcement is based on the exceptions to the rule, rather than the rule. Again, every industry and discipline has bad people working within it. Apathetic doctors, lazy nurses, burnt-out teachers, careless professionals, distracted pilots -- we've heard the stories about them all. But are you really one of those people who wants to jump on the generalization train and judge everyone in these careers as bad because of a few people who shouldn't have been in their job in the first place? If so, you're making your judgement based on ignorance and letting a group of ignorant people guide your thinking. Even if you personally have had a bad experience with an individual in a certain position, is it fair to judge everyone in their industry as being like them? If so, you may be judged the same for one of your bad co-workers and their bad attitude, their burnout, their apathy.
Think for yourself. Find your own wisdom, form your own opinions, and then advocate for those you've chosen to believe in. Support those you have found to be worthy of support. I know a lot of cops, and I don't know a single bad one. The ones I know make sacrifices on a regular basis of their own time and energy, to get the job done and to do a job well. These are some of the most caring people I've ever met, and some of the bravest, willing to put themselves in dangerous, potentially fatal, situations for their job. Are they doing it because they're on a power trip?... Try being a cop these days and see if you feel a sense of power at all. We need to give them back their power, their authority, their respect for all they do.
Bullying doesn't just happen in junior high. It happens every day on the street, on social media, any time someone tries to spread a video, a photo or a story about cops that is damaging. It doesn't damage the individual alone; it damages the reputation of law enforcement, and it takes away the very authority that allows you, and me, and all of us, to be protected by these brave individuals every single day. Have you ever tried to actually wrestle a full grown man, who's holding a knife, to the ground, while avoiding getting hurt? It's not an easy task. And when you get that full grown man finally to the ground, do you want to hold on loosely and give him a chance to escape, knowing that's his only goal?
I worked at a behavioral health facility for kids. I'm only 5'2, but most of the kids were still shorter than me. However, when someone wants to do something harmful to another person or wants to get away from you, and you're trying to gently hold them back to prevent someone getting hurt, it's an all-out, full-on wrestling match, no matter how small they appear. We were taught to use specific techniques designed to keep kids from getting hurt, allowing them to breathe easily while being held from hitting someone or running away, all while they are cussing at us, spitting, kicking us, pulling hair, scratching, and red and sweaty with highly-fueled anger. I'm talking kids, here. I can't even imagine trying to stop an adult who was going through those same escape/injure tactics; can you?
Give a cop a break. If he/she feels that someone is in danger, it's the mission and goal to protect everyone that might possibly get hurt, and to keep that individual from getting away - because someone could get hurt. You think it looks harsh when they're trying to stop/hold someone they suspect has potential to harm someone else? Seriously, go home, find a life-size adult, and have them try to pretend-escape while you try to stop them.
The men and women in law enforcement that I know personally are amazing people. Are there a couple I don't like as much as all the rest? Sure there are - how about you and your co-workers? Do you want anyone making generalized judgments about you and everyone in your industry based on those couple of co-workers that you don't like? It's the same.
You have a brain, with many functions. Memory, ability to reason, reaction, emotions are all available to you - next time you feel like generalizing, about anybody, stop yourself. Think it through. Educate yourself and become intelligently powerful through wisdom and knowledge. And then share that, rather than an ignorant judgment that someone else told you that you should make.
We all need to understand better. Be the voice of power, and start thinking for yourself and encouraging others to do the same. One of these days, you may need the protection of someone you generalized as being unworthy of doing exactly what you're expecting them to do for your benefit. Think it through. Think for yourself. Wisdom is powerful.