This should make my day, but it doesn’t.
I am amazed by the patience that the numerous police officers involved in this case had. I can’t imagine how frustrating it was to know that children were being abused while they sat and watched, unable to do anything about it.
We know it’s out there. We know that horrible things like this–and worse–go on. But we’re not faced with the reality every day. We don’t go to sleep thinking about it, or wake up knowing that it will consume our day.
When this is no longer newsworthy, we’ll go back to our lives. The police officers, meanwhile, will go on to the next case.
A friend of mine told me once how her stepson is a police officer. At Christmas one year, they were going around the table and saying what they were thankful for. When it came to him, he had nothing. He had just been involved in something particularly nasty, and just couldn’t think of anything.
We watch the crime shows on television. We see dramatizations of people killing and people dying. People committing atrocities. We watch the endings, when the heroes have caught the villains or, in some cases, when they fail. We see them walking away as the screen fades, knowing that they’ll have to do it all over again.
Then we talk with our friends about what a great episode it was. Because we don’t have to deal with the real emotions. We can go back to our world.
And that’s the way it should be. Police officers, doctors, soldiers, and others just like them are on the front lines, insulating the rest of us from the evils of the world. They choose to be there, for whatever reason. And if the rest of us spend all of our time worrying about crime, disease, and war, then what good are they doing? What purpose do they serve?
We can never have a safe world; the best we can hope for is a safe perception of the world. Only then can we carry on with our lives and make our individual contributions to society.
I thank all those who work to guard that perception for the rest of us.