Officers & Festive Goers Down…

fire road

It’s Summer and I don’t teach summer school.

I don’t know how others do it, but I need some time away to regroup and recharge. Time to get errands done and pay more attention to my house which has been calling out for attention.

As I’ve mentioned before within these posts, when I’m not hanging off the side of my house or battling weeks, I’m a Scoutmaster which means during the summer I’m allowed to continue to teach – mostly during the Scoutmaster Minute. This is a time at the end of the weekly meeting in which I get to share some thoughts I’ve had.

Usually I get inspired during church service and craft my message as I’m moved by the sermon (more on this another time).

This week I had it all figured out on Sunday. Then shots were fired while we sat listening to the week’s message killing three more police officers. This time in Baton Rouge. Not sharing how recent events have affected me seemed inexcusable in the context of when I should be sharing with Scouts my thoughts. Below is what I shared with them last Monday night.


A personal story. There IS no mention of rank, summer camp, or the Scout Law….

As you might know… Yesterday morning, while many people were just getting to church, three police officers were killed in Baton Rouge, LA, three more were injured.

One of the officers was shot dead as he stepped from behind a dumpster trying to help another officer who had just been hit. The man doing the shooting had driven all the way from Missouri and had been in the city just a few days. It’s reported that his intent was to do exactly what is now known – kill police.

Last Thursday 84 people were killed in Nice, France on what was supposed to be a happy night celebrating their national Independence Day.

What convinces a person to drive over people who are out hoping to see fireworks?

This act follows the attacks here in the US in Dallas, TX where a sniper killed 5 police officers.

I know I’m not alone in asking why.

I know we all agree that each of these acts seems both insane and horrific.

As a teacher and a dad, I don’t even know where to start the conversation in trying to make my son or my daughter… or my students feel better.

And really… I can’t make it better.

We can talk about injustice. About how our neighbors and friends feel as if they have been mistreated by those sworn to protect and serve.

My Vietnamese college roommate told me how he and his friends had been forced to get out of his car and put their noses on the ground. Because he was in L.A., because he was in a new sports car… Because he had worked hard and had a great job.

We should also acknowledge that first responders have a difficult job in trying to bring order in communities that seem to no longer be respectful of what the police face.

In fact when I asked my school’s Resource Officer why Chesterfield County Police cadets used sir and kept holding the door for me she replied, “they’re taught to earn your respect – just because they have a badge doesn’t mean people will respect them.”

A few months ago I had to go to New York City to rescue my mom’s car which had become the property of the 1st precinct. It’s a long story about how it all happened, regardless I found myself standing in front of a bulletproof glass trying my best to show the respect that I hoped would help me get my mother’s car keys.

As I shared with the officer that I didn’t just want to take her car that was sitting outside the building, the policeman immediately told me what a bad decision that would have been as he would would have hunted me down — and he didn’t say it in a kind or unaggressive way. In fact he used a few words that I can’t repeat.

When I thought about why he had acted that way, I can only guess that after years of being polite and being disrespected, one puts up a wall – one that allows you to go to work and separate yourself from the cruel things that are experienced when people argue and mistreat each other. Better to immediately prove whose in charge versus being in a position in which his authority is in question.

When 9/11 happened in 2001 my son had not yet been born. He was born four months later so my wife and I knew a son would arrive in a matter of months.

This week as all these horrible things kept happening, the conversation my wife and I had almost fifteen years ago came up.

“What kind of world will our son enter? Why would we choose to actually have a child in a world in which people would take over planes so they could ram them into buildings full of people?”

I didn’t have a good answer then either. Just like I don’t have good answers now.

I will share this however.

My son, his sister, and each of you has hope placed upon you.

It is our hope that because you are here, because – unfortunately – you live in a world such as ours… you will be the person to bring a solution to what’s happening.

That is the hope I had when thinking about the world Benson was born into.

It is you who will listen, ask questions, and listen again to people’s stories so that you will understand better than people do now. It is your responsibility to ask your teachers, your professors the tough questions in hopes of coming up with new solutions.

You are here, perhaps, to be that person who others will turn to for answers – and you will have good ones.

It is our hope that In time, you will be able to help us feel better about the world you’ve made better.

THAT is my hope and that is my prayer.

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