My dad was a police officer for 30 years. He looks happy in the above photo, doesn’t he? I remember him coming home and telling stories of his day with joy. At some point though, he was less than happy and at some point, I vividly remember seeing the book Why Cops Hate You on the kitchen counter. After I left for college, the department sent him for a mental health screening where he was diagnosed with depression. He’s gone now and I wonder what happened to that smile. I wonder what he would think of everything going on in America today.
I’ve seen the news and heard the helicopters/sirens near my home, but four recent readings compelled me to post about the turmoil stemming from George Floyd’s death:
- Acting DHS Secretary Chad F. Wolf (1-2 years older than me/how do we not know) regarding open fire on two Federal Protective Service contract officers, assualt on members of the Secret Service, and the attempt to burn down an ICE facility.
- U.S. Coast Guard Admiral Karl L. Schultz (17 years older than me) regarding COVID-19, societal unrest, and four active duty suicides.
- HBR (341 years older than me) calling on businesses to take meaningful action against racism.
- Dave Hollis’ (3 years older than me) Get Out of Your Own Way chapter entitled “The Lie: I know What You’ve Been Through.”
I know what the son of a police officer has gone through. I know what a DHS employee and Coast Guard officer goes through. I know what someone with depression and suicidal ideation has gone through. I do not know what a police officer or the target of systemic injustice as gone through.
I’m struggling to develop a fully formed opinion on all of this…and maybe that’s good. There are a littany of contributions over centuries and nuanced perspectives to each specific event that I don’t undestand. I’m a white male who was raised by two parents that where there each day to make sure I did my homework and got to whatever afterschool activity was on the schedule that night. I grew up and still live in the suburbs (more rural with each move though). I’ve had the same job since 1996, only once worried about unemployment in 2012, and got a pay raise this month for having a heart beat for the past 20 years. When I look around at work and home, everyone usually looks like me. Who do I turn to for accurate information? Who do I turn to for perspective? How do I formulate my own opinion of the truth?
The truth is always worth pursuing. I write this post to make a strategic committment to continually move in that direction and navigate the sticky/hard/perilous path towards a better understanding of inequality:
- I will not remain strategically colorblind any longer.
- I will focus on others’ meaning and not their delivery, my own curiosity and defensiveness.
- I will actively pursue diverse backgrounds and their associated views in both my professional and personal lives.
- I will not avoid difficult conversations regarding any form of discrimination.
- I will remember the Declaration of Independence and treat all people as created equal with unalienable Rights from their Creator to pursue Life, Liberty, & Happiness.
I love that photo of my dad. I got to ride with him in high school when I was the chief of police for student government. I got to ride in his cruiser doing over 100 mph with the lights on and helped him make coffee at 7-Eleven. He was later awarded a plaque for community policing from the community he policed, which included quite a few economically disadvantaged families. I (even though I was supposed to stay in the car) watched him respond to a domestic violence report in a public housing complex with “one of the two of you is going to jail” and then defuse the situation by changing the couple’s focus from today’s fight. He showed me a balance of compassionate accountability that I didn’t understand until writing his eulogy. I miss him dearly.