Thoughts and prayers for the victims.
Make no mistakeâ€”there is a war going on, here at home, right under the noses of the people we protect.
People living honest, hard working, productive lives are the ones who need to be aware of the jagged edge we tread, but they choose to leave their blinders firmly in place. Itâ€™s not their fault.
They do not have the same front row seat to the disintegration of civilization that we do. They donâ€™t see police officers spat at, screamed at, ignored, and ridiculed. They do not see people refusing to yield to the lights and sirens on top of the ambulances. They do not see the houses set on fire by arsonists for profit. They do not see black teens shot to death by other black teens, while the mantra â€œBlack Lives Matterâ€ blares from the devices that fill the pockets of people who canâ€™t afford to feed their illegitimate children. They donâ€™t see people from all walks of life stone cold dead in bathrooms, alleyways, luxury hotels and cars, needles in their arms, vomit in their mouths and eyes shut forever.
We do. And we soldier on. There is a nagging doubt about the future buried in most first responderâ€™s hearts, and it chips away, day after day, and fills us with worry, regret, and anger. But we go on, and do our job, and treat with respect the people whose absolute disregard for what we hold sacred rips us apart from the inside out.
We bear witness to the worst of the worst, and there is nothing we can do but stand back and watch Rome burn.
Images of terrorist attacks, anti-police protests, and demands for more government programs and handouts are abstract images easily dismissed when seen from the safety of oneâ€™s home. Police officers, firefighters, and EMTs who spend most of their waking hours immersed in the world that is falling apart cannot dismiss what our eyes have seen.
We do not have that luxury. We absorb the hatred, racism, and destructive selfishness being forced down our throats daily. Our hands are tied. We cannot speak out, lash out, or cry out for fear of losing our livelihood. We live in a world that encourages weakness of character, embraces the mob mentality even when innocent lives are trampled, and simply looks the other way when something that makes us feel uncomfortable comes our way.
We now live in individual bubbles of our own making.
First responders do not have the luxury of living in denial. We are on the front lines. Showing up for war for years wears you down. Showing up for war for even one day takes a personâ€™s perspective away. Watching the news, listening to the debates, and simply listening to what â€œothersâ€ have to say about the current state of affairs is enough to make us build walls, and seek the company of others like us; others who see the world up close and personal, and feel the pain, and misery and hopelessness. Spending time with people who truly believe that the world is spinning straight, and that productive achievement trumps blatant, condoned fraud is difficult. If only they could see what we see, we think, but keep it to ourselves.
The knowledge that everything that we have built is disintegrating right before our eyes makes us crazy, but not nearly as crazy as knowing that the rest of the world doesnâ€™t see it. They are comfortable in their state of delusion, thinking that criminals get prosecuted and sent to jail, people who commit fraud will eventually be exposed, and people who stand up and shout â€œkill the pigsâ€ will be treated according to a sane system of justice.
Those people fail to notice that the criminals making the most noise are not silenced, their words never used against them, and their vitriol allowed to permeate the subconscious of a public ripe for their influence. It isnâ€™t crystal clear to the people who go to work in the morning and come home at night just how dangerous our streets have been allowed to become. They do not realize how close things are to falling into chaos. They have never been on the front lines, when something as innocent as a surprise snowstorm and the subsequent inconveniences brings the populace to the brink of violence.
So, thereâ€™s the problem.
But what is the solution? Because there is always a solution.
“The journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step.”
A good beginning is to lead our lives like responsible, productive members of society and demand the same from everybody else. The days of looking the other way and not getting involved are over. Itâ€™s time to lead by example, act like a man, or woman, dress well, open doors, treat people with respect, and demand the same from those who don’t. Start todayâ€”stop tolerating people who spit in front of you, neglect to hold a door, cut in front of you in line, swear in public, and litter. Yeah, I’m idealistic, but it’s all I can do to stem the tide. Sounds crazy, but by making my little place in the world a respectful one perhaps it will spread, and before long anti-social behavior will be the exception rather than the rule.
So, if you see somebody acting creepy, or disrespectful, or like an idiot, say something. “Quit acting like an idiot,” usually works. Doesn’t stop the idiot from acting like an idiot, but the people who witness the event appreciate it, and grow a little more bold, and perhaps next time it will be one of them calling out somebody who is acting like a jerk.
Before long, the jerks will be outnumbered.