What do I say?
My son has wanted to be in law enforcement since he was 8. It started with the FBI, moved to local law enforcement, wandered towards Fish and Game and now hovers around CHP.
The events of this last week, a proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back in regards to a movement or movements either fighting against the establishment, or protecting it. Targeting entities, blaming all problems on injustice or race, centered on the actions of a few while targeting the many. Wallowing in hatred and an unmistakable inability to look in a mirror at one’s self before casting blame. To kill or protect, hate or understand, listen or scream, these seem to be the only options available and all though some are working hard to find common ground as long as media agendas, and motivated hate mongers are allowed to stir panic, and rage through social media there will be no winners.
What do I say?
How do I tell him I am terrified for his future, scared that he will become a target as opposed to a respected asset to the community he chooses to serve; and not because of his individual actions but instead for his chosen profession in conjunction with the color of his skin. Blind hate stirred carefully over time through abuse from both sides of this fence has seen to that.
He is an incredibly smart, college educated, handsome young man. One who cannot stand injustices towards others, who was raised to honor an individual for their accomplishments, persona, ethics, and integrity; to never judge someone but spend a moment in their shoes before an opinion can be made about the who, where, what and the why of it all. He has been raised to understand we are all Gods children, color has no bearing in our house and the hate he sees in our world is taught. You are not born that way.
Yet his dream is his dream. His passion is fishing, hunting, camping spending ever moment he can outdoors. He also longs for the day when he can chase down law breakers, work on a difficult case bringing resolution to a person or family struggling with heartbreak. He wants to help you and not because you are family, but because you are a human being who needs assistance.
He is braver than I, stronger, and mentally sharper than I’ll ever be, he picks apart situations and is able to quickly decipher any moment, finding a resolution or answer. He is quick witted and knows the minute you are lying. He is the son of a fireman and therefore knows exactly what is waiting for him in this world. I have kept no secrets. And yet it is what he wants. To help you at all costs, a stranger.
I have told him you will be lied to everyday, some people will hate you simply because you wear the uniform. He will quickly find most people fail to take responsibility for their actions and therefore whether it’s a domestic issue, robbery, car theft or speeding, somehow, some way it will be his fault.
Throw into the mix our messed up society brandishing a camera, hoping, praying he screws up, loses his temper, does something stupid so they can become the next YouTube sensation and his job gets harder by the minute. It is not an easy profession, he will be spit on, punched, kicked, demoralized and berated. Hopefully no one ever shoots at him but I think those days are long gone where an officer never needs to pull his weapon, but yes that means at some point he will need to draw his gun to the glee and delight of all those iPhone camera toting social media trolls.
What do I say?
What do I say to my son, to the boy who I played baseball with, held when he cried, and laughed with while we fished. My job as his father is to help support him, keep him from harm, and lead him down a proper road while giving him all the tools for success. So what do I tell him in regards to this career choice he has made, that he has dreamed of for so long?
Do I tell him his mother and I will have multiple sleepless nights, worrying about his safety and the safety of his fellow officers? Do I tell him I selfishly wish he had become a firefighter like me? Do I prod him towards another profession, breaking him down and crushing his dreams all in the name of my own personal wellbeing?
Instead I hug him and tell him I understand. I understand what it’s like to want something so bad, to be a part of something much greater than you so bad it drives you crazy and leaves you sleepless at night! I tell him I am proud of him for his choices and remind him I will help him in any way possible to ensure he achieves his dream. I reinforce our families belief that all people are equal and help him to understand there are people in this world ready to tear him down at a moment’s notice and to not judge all because of the actions of a few. I remind him change can only come when people like himself get involved and provide a positive presence for all to see and learn from. I remind him that I fully understand the old adage of; if not you, then who?
We still have a few years to go before he is ever sworn in anywhere and maybe our country will have worked hard to turn things around, rebuilding trust and furthering our ability to no longer mire in hatred. He may also have joined the military and taken a different path into law enforcement you never know. Either way I know this. I am proud of the man my oldest son is becoming, I look forward to the day he finally achieves his dreams and I pray he surrounds himself with good people, starts himself a loving family and remembers he has a solid foundation for which he was built upon. Those things alone will keep him humble, caring and make him one hell of a man.
What do I say?
I say I love you son and thank you for just being you.