Every day, many times a day, we are faced with choices. Some are pretty mundane, like which jam to use on toast. Others, though not life changing, do have significance. Choosing the right attire for work, court, or official gatherings are choices with specific guidelines, and if violated, specific consequences.
Some choices afford hours, weeks, or greater spans of time before the decision must be announced or acted upon. More difficult are the reaction decisions you have to make on the spot, perhaps a response, or perhaps a reaction to protect yourself or another. Facing a man with a gun does not allow debate, but choose you must.
We have lasting decisions, like vocational choices, career path, marriage, kids, houses, each which is quite significant and each of which carries lasting impact. These are life changing choices.
I chose marriage – 37 years ago. I chose a career in law enforcement, first in uniform, and then chose a path to detective. I chose to join the 229th MP Battalion. Everyone reading this is, or has been in law enforcement of their own choosing.
However, beyond choosing to join law enforcement, we must choose what kind of officer or agent we will become. Each makes that choice.
And the choices are many. We choose to serve honorably, professional, serving the community. Or, one can choose to dishonor the call to duty whether through theft, abuse, or corruption. Those who choose that path are quite visible in the news. And it know no rank.
Sadly, all suffer from the wrong of the few. It is the intentional choice to deceive, to make cognizant decisions to lie, harm, or abuse power, that stems from a deeper problem, often narcissism. It is “the personality trait of egotism, vanity, conceit, or simple selfishness . . .in a group, elitism,” according to Wikipedia. It is the “I want” problem. Me first and foremost. It is envy, that someone got a promotion, that others have more, that life is not fair and I’m grabbing mine – or, I hurt so I’ll hurt you. Fortunately, those are the embarrassing few.
We choose the kind or person we will be, the kind of father or husband we become, and how we will live out the calling of law enforcement.
No doubt, all we see and experience, those are difficult choices. Investigating child abuse, or dealing with that drunk driver who just killed an 18 year old girl in an accident – both of which I experienced – are tough to experience and make right choices. By the grace of God I made the right ones.
Fortunately, I had a great partner, Drew Grant. He helped me make better choices, because some were not good ones. He had the courage to challenge me, encourage me, and I can honestly say, set me in the right direction. He remains one of my best and trusted friends.
We each can choose right, and equally important, help our brothers choose the right path of honor.
On the other hand, we encounter those who often make quite bad choices, and beyond violating the law, cause harm to others by their actions. Some are from years of abuse and a lifestyle of bad choices, like those in substance abuse, drunk driving, addictive behavior.
However, there is evil, and some choices are evil, like child abuse and molestation, spousal abuse and battering, and those who torture, kidnap, and kill. I also include in that category those who walk into a diner and shoot unsuspecting officers. No doubt this list is not all inclusive, but just to point out, one never knows when they might face evil when they hit the street.
So why all the talk about choices? As a fraternal order, guided by a Book of Rituals and By-Laws, we commit to the betterment and defense of our brothers and sisters. Certainly by the words we speak, but likewise the actions we take and the choices we make, both personally and on the street. Our choices reflect on the order, on the brotherhood.
To that end, choices must be made on absolutes, right or wrong, truth or lie, and values like loyalty, honor, integrity, and yes, justice. Rather than choose out of opinion, out of the polls, we, in America, can evaluate and choose actions freely.
Choose the good, flee from the bad and the ugly. In all things, choose honor