Seeking Out The Worst

All black men are thugs. All white people are racist. All women are gold diggers. All police officers are power-tripping pigs. All NFL stars are wife beaters. All Christians are judgmental hypocrites. All Muslims are terrorists. All sorority girls are snobs. All frat boys are drunk horn dogs. All Republicans are greedy and anti-women. All Democrats are tree-hugging baby killers who don’t understand budgets. All politicians are liars. All state workers are lazy. All children are ungrateful brats. All unmarried fathers are deadbeats. All lawyers are dishonest.

The list goes on and on. We’ve all heard or said at least one of these at some point in our lives. The fact of the matter is none of this is true.

Unfortunately, bad experiences tend to stick around in our memories much longer than good ones. One negative encounter can cause someone to draw a conclusion about an entire group that is not representative of the majority.

Yesterday two NYPD officers were gunned down in their car in Brooklyn. A police officer in Florida was also killed overnight. I haven’t read any of the details of that yet; I just saw the headline. Because of the events lately and the violence that has been incited, it looks like it is now open season on law enforcement. That’s scary. It is scary for these men and women who have chosen a dangerous profession and scary for their families.

There is a particular police offer in West Monroe (who shall remain nameless) who has acted arrogantly toward both my sister and a good friend of mine. These two encounters were years apart, but when my sister told me the name of the officer who had given her a hard time, it was the same one who had been such a jerk to Johnathan. We always say his name with disdain. It has kind of become an ongoing joke among us. Any time we see this man’s last name, whether it has anything to do with him or not, we say it with a certain tone of voice. So that’s one jerk.

In my Sunday School class, there are three law enforcement officers. I’ve been around the three of them enough to know they are not jerks. They’re good men. They’re gentlemen. I can’t imagine any of them acting like power-tripping pigs. So that’s three good men.

One jerk. Three good men. All cops are not power-tripping pigs. Most of them aren’t.

I, myself, have been guilty in the past of having the attitude of “I don’t like cops” because of the one jerk. I’ve since realized how ridiculous that is. I’ve gotten one speeding ticket in my life. (Yes, Mamaw Lindsay sometimes drives too fast.) The cop who pulled me over wasn’t a jerk to me. And guess what? I was speeding. I was irritated to have gotten a speeding ticket, but he was nothing but professional and I was, indeed, speeding.

When we had a crazy man in our office several months ago, barricading himself in the lobby bathroom and then climbing up through the ceiling tiles and scurrying around the attic, I was thankful for the law enforcement officers who showed up to pull him out of the ceiling, arrest him, and make our building secure again. My coworkers and I stood out in the farthest section of the parking lot while several law enforcement officers were inside the building tracking this guy down, and other law enforcement officers were stationed outside at every corner of the building in case he somehow got out and exited through a door or window. They had us covered. This man could have had a weapon on him (he didn’t) or could have been strong and physically violent (he wasn’t; he looked to be about 100 pounds soaking wet). They could have been walking into an extremely dangerous situation and they willingly did that. It’s what they do every day.

When I go to court in smaller outlying parishes without metal detectors at the doors, I’m thankful to have armed law enforcement officers in the court room. So far, thankfully, nothing crazy has gone down, but I sure am grateful they are there in case anything does.

When I’ve walked through Times Square on my visits to New York City, I’ve been thankful to see uniformed NYPD officers on the streets. Times Square is an awfully busy place, but standing on the street corners you always see NYPD. I don’t find it to be a scary, threatening environment, but I think the presence of law enforcement is what makes it feel safe. Also, I might add, I’ve never seen any of them harass anyone.

People hate to be judged. Nobody wants the negative experiences with one person to shape the views toward their entire demographic. I hope I’m not seen as a racist, judgmental, hypocritical, greedy, anti-women, lazy gold digger. If someone attributes any of these characteristics to any group I would be associated with, then yes – this is how people would see me. But this isn’t me.

All black men are not thugs. All law enforcement officers are not power-tripping pigs.

I’ve heard it said that young black men, in particular, are taught that police officers look upon them with suspicion and that they should be afraid of cops for this very reason. I do understand where a lot of black men would feel this way, but I think it’s important to teach everyone self respect and respect for others. This would solve a lot of problems. If stopped by a law enforcement officer, show self respect and respect for the officer. Becoming combative, either verbally or physically, never helps a situation. Everyone under every demographic – every race, either gender, rich, poor, etc. – should show respect for self and respect for others.

Nobody wants to be judged based on whatever demographic they fall under. Black men don’t want to be looked upon with suspicion simply because of their skin color. Police officers don’t want to be looked upon with suspicion simply because of their uniform. It goes both ways. It’s the same judgmental attitude, just toward a different demographic. Respect for self and respect for others would calm a lot of the tension in America today.

Are some cops jerks? Yep. But the vast majority of them are honorable men and women who genuinely seek to protect and serve. Are some state workers lazy? Sure. But most of my coworkers are hardworking people. Are some Christians judgmental hypocrites? Yes. But we all are hopeless without grace and we all screw up every day. If it weren’t for God’s grace and forgiveness, we’d all be in trouble, so far be it from us to pretend we’ve got it all together.

You don’t have to agree with someone or be exactly like them to respect them as a person. I hope we all – myself included – will not gather an entire demographic of people under one umbrella based on one negative experience, but will see everyone as an individual with a clean slate. And I pray we will show respect and gratitude toward those who make it their life’s calling to protect and serve.


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