We are a civilized, democratic society where the rule of law must be respected and complied with at all times.
Regardless of status, affluence, influence, education or family connections, we must adhere to law and order. Our social stability and cohesiveness very much depend on such compliance. There should be no halfway measure, no excuses, no room for violent disobedience, no sanctuary for a spirit of usurpation.
Of course, from time to time, there will be occasions to question the actions of those human beings who dispense law and order. That is the nature of a democracy. But never should dissension, discontent or even despair be expressed along the chaotic corridors of intemperate or unlawful confrontation.
We have a democratic right to speak and offer opinion on matters of law and order and to hold to account those who simultaneously serve and legally lord over us. But commonsense ought to prevail. Opinion ought to be informed, not posited in the public domain from the seat of ignorance, bias or malice.
Where there is confrontation between those charged with upholding the rule of law and those involved or alleged to be involved in criminality, the results can sometimes prove devastating on both sides
of the fence. Those who run afoul of the law have kin who understandably are prone to view their world through tunnel vision. Likewise, myopia might be an unavoidable quality cradled by the families of those law enforcement officers who risk their lives daily in the service of country.
When such confrontation occurs, it is curious that those on the wrong side of the law are seen in real, mortal terms, while those upholding the law are seen in a somewhat abstract vein. A police force is made up of men and women but it is an institution. One does not “beat” or “kill” or “erase” an institution. The notion that one can perpetuate deviancy against an institution, even if done temporarily to some within that institution, is foolhardy and self-defeating.
When that confrontation comes, those who threaten the status quo tend to be seen, curiously, mainly as victims. They have a mother, father, children; they are possessed of blood, flesh and bone. Invariably, despite evidence to the contrary, we hear an individual was a “good boy” or “good girl”. Their role in their deviancy or own demise is often relegated to the nether regions of convenient sentimental forgetfulness. Armchair experts, those with axes to grind or any other category of individuals, suddenly purport to be able to do the job of trained law enforcement officers better than they can.
But in the midst of the unsolicited advice, law enforcement officers are seemingly relegated to the abstract. Theirs is no blood, flesh or bone. Mother, father or children in their equation appear a minor detail. They are stripped of individuality and seen only as the institution. The police officer maimed, endangered or killed is expendable by virtue of being part of an institution, and who is easily replaceable within five or six months of intensive training.
Reflection on the lives of the likes of the late Mark Young, Alfred Harding, Don Grazettes, Beulan James, Winston Hall, and many others of similar ilk, reveal a common thread. In the midst of the sympathy expressed over their passing and advice given to law enforcers on how their jobs should have been done, or not done, not many people remembered or called the names of their victims. The evil men do lives after them, the good is often buried, said the scribe from Statford-upon-Avon.
The good, bad and indifferent are to be found beside the pub, as much as they will be located beside the pulpit. And our police officers are imperfect too. We must hold them to high standards of responsibility. We must praise them when merited and berate them when deserved. But we should never lose sight of the reality that they man that wall that separates prey from predator; man from beast; evil from the not so evil.
When the confrontation comes – as it will – and we lament lives lost – as we should – remember that the lives of our police officers matter as well, if not more. We should never accept that when mothers and fathers lament the tragically predictable loss of their strayed loved ones, an institution has no reason to shed tears because its loss is seemingly more readily replaceable.