I drove Lyft recently and had an interesting conversation. A young woman who is active in her community was talking about the non-profit she worked to help people have a fair wage.
It was immensely admirable. In passing, I mentioned how a friend of mine wanted to join the police force. I thought it was a bit of wage discrimination that new police officers need to spend ~$2,000 of their own money buying their first uniform and gear before they join the force.
To me, this seemed like a bit of economic discrimination.
The conversation got a little weird. My passenger felt uncomfortable with the idea of helping someone on the police force. Something she mentioned to me after I caught the look in her eye.
I was uncomfortable as well for two reasons. One, I didn’t want a bad rating on Lyft. Two, while I think Chicago police are far from perfect, I didn’t know we should dislike them because of who they are.
It got me thinking. My apologies in advance. Why do police and protestors fight? What makes them both stick to some high-minded ideal when in reality both sides want to make the world a better place for the next generation.
Reality and the Horror
How do I reconcile a belief that police can do good when I hear stories of police officers who abused their position?
Take the recent Chicago Police debacle where the police arrested over a dozen innocent men for decades for crimes they did not commit. This incident is not the first time we heard this story.
However, it is a reminder how things can go wrong.
What can we do?
1. Understand the psychology
Most people are not horrible people. They are human. I get humans mostly.
You see we all have our fears. A policeman and the protestor probably fear the same thing, which is what makes this so exciting.
Both fear no one will respect them or their position. Both sides shout retorts back and forth at each other like little Cartman’s, “Respect My Authoritay!”
Most people act the way they do in the fear that their life has no meaning. A police officer does not join the force to accuse people of crimes wrongly.
Instead, they believe they can make a difference. However, police officers sometimes get ground down by the system and make unfortunate choices.
A protestor wants to make a difference as well. Protesters feel if they could just help this group of people have a better life then their life would have some meaning.
They probably did not start out hating the police. It just came from many adverse incidents with them.
When they had the chance to help a good person join the police force they probably never considered it to be another form of exclusion to say no. Or worse, most violent protestors did not start out that way. They found themselves in an unfortunate situation.
The space between our ears holds so many answers to the question of why one person becomes a police officer, and another a protestor.
2. Respect diversity of thought
Once we understand the psychology and how similar people are, we now need to understand their differences.
It is the psychology that can bring people closer together. It is the respect of divergent beliefs that allow us to end the violence and hatred we see so often in politics today.
I think we can all benefit from the immortal words of Beatrice Evelyn Hall, “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”
Freedom is not the ability to speak your mind. It is the freedom for everyone to have their say.
When we forget that everyone has a right to speak, we lose so much more than the debate. We lose a little piece of our democracy.
The only way to fight this decline is to understand the other’s person’s point of view.
While you do not have to agree with your opponent, you need to listen to then. When both sides do this, then progress happens.
Two sides with entirely different beliefs listen to each other to find common ground to move forward together.
However, progress only happens when we listen to each other.
What’s the final word?
Truthfully, I don’t have all the answers. I know that might sound shocking to some. The words “duh” might come to mind for others.
This little article might not change the world. However, I just wanted to point out at the end of the day we are all people. The cop and the protestor have an equal say.
When both sides respect each other, we can make the changes we need to improve the state of relations with the Chicago Police.
Maybe I am in a little bit of holiday cheer thinking how everyone should spread the love over the holiday season. However, what do we lose by respecting others?
In the meantime, let me know your thoughts in the comments below. Do you have a better idea? If so, speak out. Just make sure you defend your position and respect other people’s beliefs.