News headlines can be so cold sometimes, wouldn’t you agree? While I understand the purpose of them is to inform, we often become desensitized to the actual events the headlines and stories are recording. Too often, we forget there are names – names of actual people with lives, behind the headlines.
Before going much further, I must warn you: this post lacks the normal, buoyant nature of previous posts. What follows may offend some and some people may not agree. While my intention is certainly not to offend, this is my blog and it contains my opinion. If someone doesn’t like what I have to say, they can click out of the browser and find another blog to read. What I have to say tonight needs sayin.’
Over the last few weeks, I’ve come across numerous stories reporting car accidents, domestic disputes and other conflicts that required police action. Today, one of these stories struck close to home and served as a reality check for me.
So often when news stories like these come across my radar, I’m quick to offer what I believe is the “truth” when in reality it’s nothing more than a misinformed opinion. Myself and whoever else I’m with usually discuss the story, offer our two cents and move on without another thought.
While this is certainly normal human behavior to an extent, it’s often nothing more than armchair commentary that doesn’t contribute anything real. In the process of offering our opinions, we forget there are names behind the headlines – names of actual people directly (and sometimes tragically) affected by the events.
Real People, Real Lives
The family who was directly affected by today’s events need prayer. They need it more than anyone has ever needed it before. Their loss is heavy, deep and painful. It is tragic and unfair.
The police and emergency personnel who responded to this tragedy also need our thoughts and prayers. You see, they are the unsung heroes who will go unnoticed by the majority of people not directly affected by what happened today. What they are feeling is also heavy, deep and painful.
LOST iN tHE dETAILS
The officers affected by today’s (and other) events – and countless others across the country – are real people with very real lives. Though it’s not intentional, they are so often lost in the details as our focus hones in on different aspects of whatever news story we’re reading.
We lose the reality that these humble warriors in uniform are people just like you and me. They have families and hobbies and lives outside the uniform. They are funny, witty and loyal. They are loved, adored and cherished by their friends and families.
While I understand that not every officer is worthy of the uniform and some abuse their authority, most are modern-day superheroes who deserve all the awards and money in the world for their courageous work.
When everyone else is sleeping and working and living life, they’re watching, patrolling, and protecting. More frequently than you or I realize, they’re putting themselves directly in danger’s way to bravely stand between civilians and the bad guys. They are the difference. They are our shield against danger. They stand in the gap so we don’t have to.
They’re the proverbial sheepdogs watching over their flocks of sheep.
Even when not in uniform, they are always present. They could be the guy sitting next to you at the movie theater, standing in line behind you at the grocery store or the woman sitting at the end of your pew at church.
The silent and unnoticeable difference? Even off duty, they’re always watching, patrolling and protecting. Because while being a police officer appears to be “just his or her day job,” it actually encompasses that person’s entire life. It’s not simply what he or she does to make a living, it’s who he or she is.
Civilians Have No Idea
I get it: you’ve been stopped for speeding or a burned out taillight and the officer seems a little…grouchy. While I don’t condone rudeness or being short-tempered, stop for two seconds to put yourself in the officer’s shoes.
What you may not know is that earlier that day he was shot at a by crazed lunatic who had a small cache of weapons hidden in his back shed. You also may not know that he was the first officer to respond to a deadly car accident at the start of his shift and is still reeling from the emotions of that. Last week he escorted a few small children – the same ages as his own – from a sexually abusive home.
We all have bad days. But often, civilians have no clue what officers deal with on a daily basis. So if you come across a grouchy one, give ’em some grace. And if you encounter one who is gracious despite his or her bad day, be equally gracious because that could make the difference for them.
Reading Between The Lines
So tonight, in addition to intense praying for the family, I will be intensely praying for the officers impacted by today’s tragic events. Their pain is real and deep and unfair.
And next time another news story rolls around like the one today, I’ll try reading between the lines to remember there are people behind the headlines – instead of engaging in needless armchair commentary.