Friday, April 23, 2021

"Pay Attention"

Recently my wife and I were shopping in an unfamiliar part of Milwaukee. On the way back as I approached our turn for a highway I saw the sign and turned. My turn happened to be too early and I accidently turned into an unmarked police lot. I immediately knew that I had done so and turned around quickly. However, as we came up to the gate to get back to the highway entrance, an unmarked police vehicle moved in front of us and a policeman rolled down his window and yelled three times at us, “Pay Attention! Pay attention! Pay attention!” I was startled and then also filled with defensive annoyance and a feeling of guilt at the same time.

Now that I have distanced myself from the unpleasant confrontation, I have some other thoughts. I need to recognize that I made a turn 25-feet early. I have done that thousands of times historically, my bad. I also am feeling angry with the COP for the confrontation, finger pointing and shouting at me. This was in my mind entirely unnecessary and caused me to dislike him and perhaps by extension all COPs. Yes, I came to that conclusion. I also recognized that we live in a city with horrible inner city problems of crime, unemployment, drug use, dealing and decay. They are endemic and difficult problems needing concentrated and continued attention. But also we have here and nationally an epidemic of COP killing that is criminal and outrageous, putting all of us at higher risk.   Is there justification for killing a policeman? I state never. Is there justification for a policeman to shoot a person? I say yes. These are not the opposite sides of the same coin. The police are present to protect all of society from criminals and their aberrant behavior.

So, I reconsider the policeman and try to have empathy at his reaction to my turn. Perhaps he was guarding the police lot. Perhaps the many police cars were there for report or a special assault or arrest about to take place. Perhaps he was worried about a random shooter or crazy guy trying to find COPS to kill. I don’t know. Does that make his reaction more justified: perhaps.

Moreover, I have also extended the reactive warning more broadly. I realize that we live in an increasingly dangerous world. All citizens need to be more careful of potential danger from many insurgencies of criminal behavior. We need to pay attention to the increasing pace of immoral behavior and the loss of anchors of civility in our society. Violence has increased dramatically in our society.  The Apostle Peter said, “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers and sister throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings”  (1 Peter 5:8-9). There are many such passages about being alert and of sober mind for the end is near. Yes, being alert or “praying attention” is critical to our safety and even survival in this world.

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Thanks for sharing your thoughts.