Can We Talk?

Ready, Set, Done
Our free-write is back by popular demand: today, write about anything — but you must write for exactly ten minutes, no more, no less.

Can we talk? No, I mean really talk? Have a conversation, put our phones down, look each other in the face (eye contact might be too much) and talk?  

Cause it seems to me we’ve forgotten how to communicate on the most basic level.

We have become a superficial society of acquaintances communicating in 140 characters and anonymous  Likes on Facebook.  Our kids are growing up unable to interpret simple nuances, expressions of subtle body language, or the tone of ones voice. One-on-one social interaction has become uncomfortable and outdated.

We’ve given our kids cell phones 24/7 on the pretense of keeping them safe, but if we were honest with ourselves, convenience was the real reason. Convenient to know their whereabouts at all times, and easier than arguing when they threw the inevitable “Everybody has a phone,” tantrum.

Inundated with technology cell phones, laptops, iPods, and eReaders are the minimum found in most homes today. And we upgrade on a regular basis, providing the newest and greatest to our children at younger ages each year. We have created a world of artificial communication and when our kids no longer talk or interact with us, we act surprised.

This is the text generation. They communicate from a distance. Debate behind the mask of social media, date online, and divorce on legal People no longer know how to carry on a conversation face-to-face or even over the phone.  We pass each other, not bothering to look up from the technology in our hands, forgetting the importance of touch or respect. Because in our quest for convenience, we’ve forgotten those same values ourselves, and we don’t teach them to our children. It isn’t convenient. 

Respect is not just a word in the dictionary. There is a person in front, beside or next to each of us. They have a story to tell. Let’s have a conversation for a change. Stop texting. Make a phone call, instead. Have a face-to-face and leave the phones turned off, in the car or facedown, but for once, see where a real story leads. See what genuine communication feels like for a change. You might be surprised.

What do you think?

Stay Safe, Officers

I opened the newspaper this morning to another article discussing the   “Militarization of law enforcement. “ This issue has become a national topic, discussed on every venue after a black unarmed teenager was shot and killed by a white police officer. What followed was nothing less than chaos. Protestors marched; chanted demanding justice while unchecked looters and provocateurs destroyed a city. Policemen outfitted in riot gear, clashed with the mob of protestors and looters. It was an ugly scene.

It is not my intent in this post to discuss the merits of the case. Whether the shooting was or was not justified is not up for debate here. I was not present and do not have the facts, as the protestors, news media and provocateurs did not. The facts of the case and the outcome will be decided, by our justice system.

I want to discuss the issue that has made national attention and, in my opinion, demonizing our police force, “The Militarization of the Police,” as it has been dubbed. Let me first say, I agree there are bad apples in every bunch. I get that. I am not suggesting all cops are wonderful. They are human, which makes them fallible just like the rest of us. So you’ll get no argument from me.  If one breaks the law he or she deserves the same judgment and punishment as the rest of us.

Since the passage of the National Defense Authorization Act in 1997, the Defense Logistics Agency’s 1033 Program has given more than $5.1 billion in military equipment to local law enforcement agencies across the United States. In my own county our sheriff’s department has obtained a remote-controlled bomb disposal robot, personal protective and physical security enhancement equipment, (helmets, vests and body armor) and armored vans through military surplus. Gross/SHJ.

Daniel Gross of the Spartanburg Herald Journal did an excellent job giving an overview of the purchase, use, and need for this equipment by our law enforcement divisions. I applaud him and it was evident that both the Police Chief and Sheriff rely heavily on the 1033 program to help keep our officers safe. I applaud them as well. And, I have to agree with Sheriff Wright. Our officers wouldn’t have to gear up if citizens didn’t create chaos.

There was a time when we all respected authority. Parents could parent, teachers could teach and discipline, and kids knew when to sit down and shut up. They were not the center of the universe. There was a time when we all understood, life wasn’t fair, and not everyone won. It took hard work, integrity, and ingenuity. You learned how to be a good loser and better winner. There was a time when family meant more than the individual. A time when we grew up playing in streets after dark, knew all our neighbors, church and family were our foundation, and time we taught our children policemen and firefighters were our friends.

How dare we now demonize the very men and women who serve to protect us every day?

I’m not canonizing policemen, but I do respect them. They serve every day to keep my family and me safe. Each morning they wake up pin on their badges, strap the gun on their hips, and walk into the line of fire for us. Sometimes they make it home and sometimes they don’t. They go into places we wouldn’t be caught dead in, because it’s their job. They face down the hostile drunk, belligerent druggie, deadly gangbanger, murder, or thief. They talk the would-be suicide off the bridge, or the hostage taker into freeing hostages. They keep our kids safe from predators. Moreover, when the call comes like it did on 9/11 they don’t hesitate. They don’t just go in, they RUN in to save as many as they can.

They don’t rest. They loose sleep. They do whatever they can to bring those responsible to justice when necessary. Yes, sometimes there is a bad apple. Just like you and I, they are human. But I don’t see you or I getting up each morning pinning a badge to our chest and walking the beat to protect yours and mine. And until we do, whatever they need to keep themselves safe in this chaotic world we now find ourselves, where there is no longer a respect for authority. I say, “Stay safe, officers. Stay safe and thank you.”