It takes a longer time to visit Facebook in the morning than it used to. Due to their new policy of showing me EVERY thing that ALL of my friends like or comment on, I have to go through and click on "Hide all from [your friend's name here]" by which time I only have about 4 things left to read. Eventually I'll have hidden all of your friends and this will stop happening, but it's like the game requests, only worse. I wouldn't mind if Facebook gave me the option to tell them WHY I don't want to see this stuff, but "None of my damn business what she does on the walls of people I'm not connected to" is an option. Such are the delights of social media, but without it I'd become an eccentric hermit.
So. I seem to spend a lot of time on my blog here writing about stuff I see on Facebook. There are two reasons for that, one is that if I wrote about my personal life it might be funny but it wouldn't really generate any discussion, and I'm all about deep thinking, but also because that's my main source of information about what's going on in the world. We don't have TV news, don't get a newspaper, and so on. I get my news filtered. I avoid, for the most part, the tabloid version, the loony right, and the boring stuff.
I never really avoid the gasp shock horror, because people react. It's what people do. Sometimes filtering out bias and hyperbole can be challenging when you're looking for facts.
But you know, it's perfectly understandable...no, it's RIGHT that people are moved, that is to say upset - deeply affected - by what they read in the media, when it concerns social issues, injustice, and matters of ethics.
Of course, not everyone agrees, so after they've been upset, they tend to form "sides" and this is where it all gets...silly.
There are two, semi-related topics I am going to address, today the police brutality issue. Tomorrow, a small topic. War. Yes, that's just the kinda gal I am. So.
Everyone, and I really do mean everyone, has their opinion coloured by personal experience. Ignore that and you'll never understand anything. Even if their opinion is stupid or dangerous, they have a reason for it. They may not be aware of that, but ask the right questions and you can find out why their perceptions are the way they are. OK?
Therefore, when somebody says all police are bad, or all police are good, before you dive in and argue, take some time to find out why they believe that. You may be surprised.
I have been lucky. I have never met a bad cop. Even the German cop who pointed a semi-automatic at me was just doing his job, and although it was intimidating, I wasn't actually in danger.
I have been a fairly good girl, all my life. That is to say I've never committed any serious crimes, and just never got caught for the minor ones. So my experience with police officers has mostly been on the other side, that is when I've been a witness etc. Also, in my teens I did part of my Duke of Edinburgh award at the local police station, which was so interesting that for a while I considered it as a career, but oddly enough the WPCs warned me off. Which is quite sad.
I have friends and family who are retired police officers, so I've heard all the stories, good and bad, and one thing is quite clear. It's not an easy job. It's a vocation. Like many vocations, many young people go into law enforcement for all the right reasons. They want to help people, make a difference, and all that jazz. And many of them retire bitter and jaded because it wasn't how it could have been. Politics, corruption, racism and other bullying, plus egos, cronyism, and far too many examples of the Peter Principle in the higher ranks, all lead to inefficiency and the opposite of what they set out to do.
Let's get one thing straight before we begin. There are good cops and bad cops. There really are. Some start out good and go bad. Some go into it for all the wrong reasons. Some are really, really bad. Some are incredibly good. Some are lazy but otherwise harmless. Some are ambitious, at all costs. There are all sorts.
But let us never use the excuse that they are "only" human. We know humans have faults, we know they err. That's fine. If you are in a position of authority you have to be the very best you can be. Yes, you are held to a higher standard. Yes, your mistakes and lapses will matter, and they will be noticed. If you are "only" human, and cannot rise to the responsibility of upholding the law and seeing it though, then you shouldn't be in that profession.
There is also a problem in the system itself. At a local level, it is sometimes virtually impossible to have a good force because those responsible for hiring are clueless or have an agenda. Any office or department is as good as its managers. On a wider level poor morale due to bad pay or conditions is an obvious problem, but far worse are policies such as profiling, that almost guarantee a bad outcome.
Add all of this together. Sometimes, like it or not, instead of the police preventing trouble, they cause it.
What does this mean?
I'll tell you what it doesn't mean, right now. It doesn't mean we do away with a police force. Done well it's a wonderful thing. Among the general public are many individuals who need authority. Unfortunately. In an ideal world it wouldn't be necessary. People would behave themselves. But they don't. To avoid vigilante nonsense, we must have a group of people we can trust to deal with those who would harm us. And TRUST is the key here. If we don't trust the police, we're screwed.
This is what's happening. People have lost their trust in the police. Some never had any to begin with because they were raised not to trust them. In some situations, that's not wrong. But it is a problem.
The police are not all fantastic.
The police are not all scum.
Both of these views perpetuate the problem. It doesn't matter which of these sides you take, it causes more problems than it solves. The side you should be taking is "Let's fix the problem."
OK. All that said, you will hear more from me about the negative stuff than the positive. You have done in the past, and you will do so in the future. If you want to see all the wonderful acts of kindness and bravery, you'll find them, there are plenty out there.
It's not that I wish to concentrate on the negative, it's just that something major needs to be done, and I'm sorry, it just won't happen if we treat the negative incidents as rare or isolated. To convince the people who have no trust in the police, it's not enough to say they are rare or isolated when they are in the news every single day. Because the fact is they are not all that rare, and sadly, they aren't isolated either. They tend to happen in clusters in places where there is no trust!
Which came first? The bad police behaviour or the lack of trust?
That's not a chicken and egg question. The answer is blindingly obvious.
The people with the power to change this will not read my blog, so I'm just talking to myself on that count. These things take a huge wave of public demand to even begin to change. Whatever you do, if it's as little as voting, or if you get involved in any movement or action, just remember to be part of the solution and not part of the problem.