Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Trust and Respect

Trust and Respect
 Sometimes It's All We Have

Trust is established over time through consistent behavior, honesty, and estimable acts with our loved ones and the multitudes of people we meet over our lifetime. Trust must prevail for a relationship to survive and, furthermore, it is a blessing providing comfort to the soul and well-being to the heart.

Being respected is a gift that can only be earned! I would venture to say there are many of our youth that have never known the gratification associated with trusting and respecting someone. Sadly, for some, that includes their parents. Nor have these youth experienced the emotions associated with feeling trusted and respected. Self-respect is a gift only you can give yourself by living honestly, by not taking more than you give, and by respecting others.

We also have our intuition that will come into play spontaneously, when encountering a stranger, awakening your instincts for self-preservation helping you decide if they are trustworthy or not. Instincts are important, but regrettably not always accurate in a world of sociopaths, emotional manipulators, in-laws, and agents.

The Bare Necessities

Sadly, some children, teens, young adults, and adults have known nothing more than poverty, illiteracy, drugs, gangs and/or violence in their lives. One of the causes directly attributed to the latter is the lack of role models for these children along with the lack of any accountability or consequences at home for unsupervised children. 

When they indulge in questionable behavior, they are left to fend for themselves and forced to make decisions they are incapable of, and should not be making. Often, their path will be chosen for them if they are sucked in by the street life! Regrettably, many positive choices might not be available to them as they are denied a good education. If they are lucky to not be shot or killed in their teens, the probability of opportunities for gainful employment is few. These young people deserve more than life has offered them for so many are children that have been abandoned by all of us!

We as a society must respect and care for those 
who have been neglected, forgotten, and forced to go 
without the simple necessities of life.

Children need the guidance and the wisdom of adults to keep them safe and secure! I know the debilitating fear a child can experience when left on their own. Many children who have suffered pain and abandonment find it difficult, even after they are removed from their horrific surroundings into a safe and positive life, to be able to give unconditionally of themselves, for trust is not part of their emotional toolkit. It could take years before they are willing to contribute the essence of a relationship, unconditional commitment, and love! 

It has been tragic observing the results of generations of Americans forced to grow up in broken homes with no male guidance. Many of these youth have found family in gangs with their role models being drug dealers and pimps. In their world, respect is evaluated in terms of power over others. Kindness, compassion, and understanding are virtues these children cannot afford, for being respected is associated with how feared you are!

Right now, somewhere in America, children are being left alone. Some will be left all night long in a dark, cold room possibly with sporadic gunshots in the background or loud voices in the street freezing them in fear! 

How can we, as a civilized society, feel fulfilled and proud of our countries' accomplishments and of ourselves when we have not eradicated our greatest failure--poverty in America? 

How can we give billions of dollars to other countries, but allow thousands of our Veterans to go homeless?

How can we turn a blind eye to the brave men and women who put their lives and bodies on the line so our families are safe? 

Mistrust in Society

One should not expect trust from others before it has been earned and feelings of security and well-being have been established between said individuals. We all want to be admired and trusted, as well as experience the ability to trust others in lieu of living with the uncertainty and fear lack of trust necessitates. 

There have been decades of mistrust in minority communities directed at law enforcement who are often perceived as prejudiced by engaging in inexact profiling practices, as well as fraudulent rationalizations. When said officers exceed their authority, they attempt to explain away the excessive force they seem to engage in far too often. 

With that in mind please understand it will take time to establish new avenues of trust with people who have been negatively impacted by the few who should have never been given a badge and a gun. There are communities all over the country feeling under siege by the very people who are, or should be, there to protect them. How do we begin establishing trust in communities where it has never existed? 

How can we begin to trust and respect our public officials, elected and appointed, when they lie to us? The aforementioned entities no longer serve their constituents, but instead, blindly follow the party line no matter how badly it affects the people who voted for them. Their allegiance is to their parties ideology and/or the special interest groups that own them!

The men and women in blue, who are expected to, and do, put themselves in harm's way when they enter war zones of illegal activity and heavily armed adversaries, must be concerned for their very lives. This kind of stress, coupled with the presence of aggressive scrutiny and hostility, is a breeding ground for overreacting, poor judgment, and unintended consequences. Sadly, years of overzealous policing, partially due to inadequate training and vetting of potential officers, has left relations between minority communities and police strained to the breaking point.

With the advent of phone video capturing the senseless murder and beatings of unarmed civilians, citizens have taken to the streets to protest or riot. Citizens are outraged by the unconscionable actions of some police.  It is counterproductive and dangerous politicizing these issues for common sense is replaced with the party line, often skewing the issue or completely diverting it to a hot topic partisan issue such as The Constitution, more specifically, The Second Amendment. The criteria and procedures established for arresting citizens should be closely scrutinized and definitely altered! 

Poorly trained officers who have too much discretion employ irrational and dangerous tactics to subdue suspects they discern as being non-compliant. For an officer to establish non-compliance, the subject in question need only assertively question or argue the veracity of the charges against them, or not comply with every request from the officer, even when said requests are demeaning or threatening, in order for the officer to be warranted to aggressively attempt to handcuff the subject creating a potentially volatile encounter. In some jurisdictions, the officer does not have to explain to the subject why they are being arrested nor read them their Miranda Rights when being arrested.

One universal rule law enforcement must follow is they are not allowed to use excessive force or treat the arrestee cruelly!  (Some officers might have to go back to class and write that 1,000 times.) Excuse me for being curt, but this rule is disingenuous as the officer can simply say he or she was in fear for their safety and used appropriate force. 

A course of action to follow when questioning a perceived suspect might be to respectfully address the man or woman, ask for ID if appropriate, and never intimidate them verbally or with any expression of physicality, for people who believe they are going to be harmed will instinctively defend themselves.  

Questioning the authority and resolve of the police can get messy. It can be having 50,000 volts of electricity administered by TASER, being violently taken down for not responding quickly enough to an officer's command, putting yourself in a situation to be shot for non-compliance, or what is seen as aggressive behavior, inspired in hopes of protecting yourself from the beating they are receiving.

Why are there not specially trained men and women that are prepared with psychological and sociological skills for these hazardous assignments that can function under extraordinary conditions with emotional control, patience, and civility?

Our Men and Women in Blue

Learning to deal with extremely agitated and potentially aggressive citizens is a learned skill not everyone is capable of mastering. In war, there are those who deal with gut-wrenching fear and confusion while in battle while others unravel, paralyzed by fear.  The men and women who are able to function in all situations, with control allowing them to accurately access what they are encountering, keeping their peers safe are the people that should be on the front lines in volatile situations within troubled communities. Only excellent training and education will bring these special officers to the forefront. Needless to say people with prejudices, including black, white, brown, yellow, and red applicants, are hopefully vetted properly and not hired.

It is my belief that most Americans want to trust and respect the police for they put themselves in life-threatening situations to keep us safe from predators and criminals. I would think, with the abundance of video footage made available on social media, that most citizens have been enlightened to the fact that we have a problem with some of our men and women in blue. A small portion of our normally courageous officers have let us all down and, more importantly, have abused and, in some instances, killed human beings who are of a different color, who are economically deprived, or who have been subjected to misguided stereotyping. That is not to presume unfit officers haven’t tragically impacted people of all ethnicities.

The Dire Consequences

One of the frightening consequences of unqualified officers wreaking havoc in our neighborhoods is they have put a target on the backs of all police officers everywhere!

In 2016, while writing this piece, no less than 32 police officers were killed and at least 61 were shot.  In 2015, 123 law enforcement officers were killed. There have been 15,750 assaults against law enforcement officers and 1,165,383 violent crimes occurred nationwide. Many of these were assassinations motivated by hate in the name of "Retaliation."

It is admirable and understandable that law enforcement will close ranks and support one another in this time of pain, loss, and bitterness.  With that being said, we should not perpetuate more revenge on our honorable men and women in blue, because we have yet to eliminate all unqualified and dangerous officers!

The majority of our men and woman in blue are honorable, circumspect individuals who need our support and deserve it. 

I have tried to comprehend going to work, not knowing if you will return from home safely from the black hole of murder and mayhem you are required to enter. What must it be like wondering if you will be outgunned when responding to a call, "Shots fired!"? 

These people are doing a job that requires them to be more than brave, selfless, impartial, understanding, intuitive, and compassionate all while looking out for their partner, their citizens, and their own well-being! I find it extremely unfortunate that because of today's hyper-politicized landscape, that the answers to the many problems facing the Police Department will have little balance, or common sense, but instead be driven by ideologies and winning!

My Personal Law Encounters

I must admit my encounters with law enforcement have been fairly consistent in the sense that I could have done without them. Although I have had the occasion to meet many helpful and cordial officers, whom I respect and appreciated, I also had an officer who assaulted me.

Frank Salazar, a man I love and respect who was my Manager in the 1960s, was also a policeman and later a detective. We have remained close since we first met. He is one of the best people I have ever known.

It only takes one bad encounter with the police to leave a permanent negative opinion of all police. I would imagine most people only encounter law enforcement when they are pulled over for possible driving infractions, and in that isolated circumstance might form their opinion of law enforcement in general. 

From my own experience, treating citizens as if they had just robbed a bank while at a routine traffic infraction is counterproductive and absurd. I find the subtle, and at times, obvious intimidation tactics officers employ at routine driving violations inappropriate and stupid for public relations. You cannot strip a person of their dignity and sense of well-being without turning that individual into an enemy with total disregard for you!

As you have probably already realized, I am conflicted on the extremely important issues pertaining to appropriate restraint versus the use of deadly force. If officers are making prudent choices in the split second, do they have to do so? We all expect law enforcement to use necessary force to protect themselves and those around them without escalating the situation by using cruel and unsafe practices on unarmed civilians.

The Highest Respect

With all of the aforementioned obstacles hindering the ability to trust the police, it will take time, understanding, compassion, and faith by all concerned moving forward if we are to make any headway. A foundation of trust can be difficult to acquire, for consistency of lofty acts can be elusive, and many people do not find it important to treat others with respect, compassion or kindness. For our police officers, this is a must!

Respect...being honored, highly regarded, and held in high esteem.

I find the concept of respect has been diluted, and possibly abdicated, by its evil twin--disrespect. In today's world many people feel powerless, diminished, and disregarded by the government, their employers, and by society as a whole. Some violence is perpetuated under the guise of retribution for being disrespected by an individual or group. More often than not, references to discord will be associated with individuals feeling they have been disrespected.

It seems the psyche of some of the populace is skewed and, therefore, not embracing the concept of respect, being respectful, and becoming respected!  Instead, they put forth a manifesto of threats and demands meant to demean and create hostility.

Don't Let Hatred Obscure Your Rights!

Hate speech is a coward’s way of stimulating others to violence. Hate is a toxic poison that will infiltrate the mind and encourage the infected to commit unspeakable acts. We all should understand that hate only creates more hate. Inciting others to destroy, slander, lie, and fabricate information about another individual is evil and criminal.

We have the right to our Freedom of Speech--the right to articulate one’s opinion and ideas without fear of government retaliation or censorship, or societal sanction, but we must respect that freedom.

If someone is accused of being a racist, bigot, sexual abuser, homophobe, or conservative, even though these allegations might be based on nothing more than mere rumor, your participation by associating with these individuals could very well cloak you in the same tainted garment they are now garnishing putting your social, economic, and personal relationships in jeopardy. 

The strength of character, the unquestionable support of friends and family members who are being accused, with or without evidence, is all but gone, replaced by the scared, blind lemmings pointing the finger from their seat in the peanut gallery.

When did we become a society that destroys lives by convicting and judging others before their day in court?  Why do we consistently turns our backs on the poor, the mentally ill, and the men and women who have fought and died to keep us all safe…our Veterans and public safety officers?

Can a Society Flourish Without Respect and Trust?                                                                                

Earlier generations were raised learning about respect, and being respectful, by their parents and family. Respect was an important commodity. The examples of its powers were evident in the successes and character of their fathers, mothers, and grandparents who were proud honest people that created a wonderful life for their children and themselves out of nothing. For that, they were respected. 

Trust, honor, and respect were virtues once learned in the community and the teachers of these virtues were our family, neighbors, and friends. Other virtues like gratitude, courtesy, and kindness, and hard work are also disappearing in our cultural lives in America, which has greatly contributed, to our lack of trust in society as a whole!

We must learn to appreciate other's point of view, which could very well be derived from their cultural heritage, not just from a political doctrine, but from a moral and spiritual philosophy that truly guides their lives. 

Who are we to disparage and ridicule anyone’s belief in the teachings of a Higher Power, simply so we can justify our position which might be founded on a lack of faith in a higher power?