- By Lt. Tim McMillan
One Way On The Multilane Highway Of Life
“I began following you bc of the kindness you showed to others but I have determined, after following for over 6 months, that you are very one sided. I don’t enjoy seeing you constantly pushing an agenda that is often one that divides rather than brings our nation together. I will be unfollowing as of today.”
The sentiment you have expressed is by no means something that I haven’t heard before. In fact, being accused of being one dimensional in my perspectives is likely the most common complaint that people express to me. You conveyed that you feel I am “very one sided.” I wish that you have been a little less ambiguous and directly said what “side” you feel like I am biased towards. Additionally, you stated you felt I was “pushing an agenda.” Again, you have left it up to the imagination in terms of what agenda I am supposedly pushing.
Ultimately, I am going to assume that the position you feel that I am biased towards or the agenda I desire to facilitate can be contained amongst a collection of terms that all revolve around the same central theme. That I am a “race baiter,” “liberal propagandist,” or any aspects that would classify me as being an antagonist to Conservative political views or the inciting racial tension in America. Typically, most people express that these attributes and behaviors are a function of deliberate action and therefore are inseparably connected.
Honestly, I am indeed human and therefore I am as vulnerable to my own implicit or external bias in my beliefs. Just as any other human being. However, I do strive to be as fair and unbiased as I can be. Additionally, I try to ensure that I base my beliefs on valid and verifiable facts. In my pursuit of ensuring that I am self-regulating my desire to remain unbiased, I decided to gather the data in regards to your concern and determine if there is a noticeable pattern in the things I discuss. Truth be told, my undergraduate degree is in mathematics and I enjoy tackling statistical and mathematical questions. So ultimately, I want to say thank you for giving me a new question to tackle.
From October 2, 2016, I have published 1,614 individual posts on Facebook. I randomly selected 405 different posts from 10/2/16 to 8/21/17. Based on the population size, the sample size of 405 posts provided a confidence level of 95% with a margin of error of +/-4% as a reflection of the overall population of my Facebook post. Ultimately, the following results were obtained:
18% - Miscellaneous unrelated to cultural or social issues (i.e. solar eclipse, personal, etc.)
16%- Against racism or prejudice in totality against any individuals
14%- Against some allegation of law enforcement misconduct
13%- Supportive of law enforcement, either in individual event or in totality
13%- Inspirational in relation to some insight or promotion of introspection in order promote living a more fulfilled and meaningful life.
6%- General human or civil rights (i.e. immigration rights, women’s rights, etc.)
6%- Varying discussion regarding something related to American politics
5%- Specifically speaking in support of African-American rights
3%- Specifically speaking in support of religious freedoms
3%- Specifically speaking in support of LGBT rights
Out of curiosity, I selected a stratified sample of the post I published from 8/21/17 to 8/1/17 in order to measure if you could be implicitly influenced by recency effect. Essentially, this is when a person overly focuses on recent events as being the basis for analyzing someone’s actions for a longer period of time. This stratified sample included 74 published posts. The only deviation in the statistical breakdown was that 18% of the posts condemn racism universally; 17% were related to miscellaneous non-social or cultural issues; 14% were supportive of law enforcement.
I measured the correlation coefficient between the random sample and the stratified sample and it demonstrated a strong positive correlation between the two sample populations (r= .9368).
Essentially, with a high degree of statistical certainty over 1/3 of the posts I’ve published are unrelated to any cultural or social issues. Additionally, 74% of my post all fall in five categories: Miscellaneous non-cultural; condemning racism universally; condemning police misconduct; supporting positive police conduct; inspirational information.
Now, out of those five categories, can we agree that only condemning police misconduct would seemingly fall into the category of “dividing rather than bringing our nation together.” As you expressed.
Now, if indeed it is my public condemnation against behavior that occurs within the police profession that demonstrates misconduct or criminality is what you consider to be divisive, let me offer you some things to consider.
First, to only examine and judge me in totality, by the 51% of times I mention law enforcement in the context of misconduct means that one has to completely ignore the 49% of times I speak affirmatively about the police. Honestly, I cannot imagine being less unilateral or proportionate in my discussions regarding policing, with the exception of it being perfectly 50/50. However, I will stipulate that I think that it would be hard pressed for one to find a person or organization that is either pro-law enforcement or pro-police reform that would be so equally divided as I have been over the last nine months.
Secondly, I passionately stand by the fact that in actuality 100% of my mentions of law enforcement are pro-police. Under no circumstances do I think anyone should consider that being critical of specific individual incidents in law enforcement to be “anti-law enforcement.” In fact, the mere suggestion that it is antagonistic to law enforcement is illogical. Does a parent point out their child’s misbehavior out of a desire to see their child fail? Of course not. A parent does so out of the desire to see their child succeed.
What is the difference in the professional domains of life? As a member of the police community, indeed misbehaviors by those in the profession negatively impact me. Am I not allowed the desire to see the profession succeed? Am I supposed to ignore or pretend that negative incidents never occurred and that they don’t permeate a toxicity throughout the law enforcement community? Would my silence be representative of a person who strives to be righteous in their pursuits in life?
Now, I did not dismiss the concerns mentioned. I respect what you had to say, and in fact, I took considerable time to determine if indeed my actions were dystonic to the person I desire to be. I cannot express to you enough that I was more than prepared to say my actions were wrong and that I had indeed inadvertently expressed a predisposition of bias. I was prepared to learn from my errors and alter my behaviors moving forward. However, at the end of the day, the fact based, empirically valid evidence, does not support your claim of me being one-sided.
Considering that I put a significant amount of effort into self-reflection and investigatory-examination, I now ask are you willing to do the same? Because, make no mistake, the evidence does not support your perception of me being one-sided. However, by no means am I suggesting that you indeed do not have the perception of me not being all-inclusive. Are you willing to consider why?
Are you willing to recognize that your perception of me being one-sided does not match with reality to at least 95% certainty (-/+ 4%)? Essentially, it is not what I have said in totality that bothers you, rather it is something that I have said specifically that you take exception with. Are you willing to consider what that dependent variable is and consider why it bothers you so extensively it has altered your entire perception?
By no means am I suggesting that you should agree with everything I say or anyone else for that matter. In fact, one of the greatest hallmarks of the United States of America is that we can disagree with each other. We can all contribute to the progression of America society through debate and dispute. However, ultimately the most significant determining factor of accomplishment through diversity is the realization that at no point and time do our own beliefs, views, or opinions inherently represent those of the entire collection of the nation. Essentially, we must accept that each of us has attributes that define us and dictate our personality. However, those same attributes not only, do not have to be possessed by others, they actually in large part will not be possessed by others.
You very directly stated, “pushing an agenda that is often one that divides rather than brings our nation together.” Do you realize that by your own statements and actions what you are suggesting is the epitome of having an ethnocentric outlook on life? Please understand, I am not saying this to be derogatory towards you. I’m simply asking if you have ever considered that before? You’re suggesting that your beliefs on how the nation can come together are absolute as if the hand of God came down and scribed it for you. The problem with that is it is inflexible to the diverse thoughts, views, beliefs, and opinions of others that comprise the nation.
Again, you were not specific as to what “side” you believed me to be on, nor what “agenda” you considered me to be pushing. However, I want to take a moment to speak on the assumption that my discussions of racism or support for African American rights represent the unilateral direction of thought you mentioned.
Based on your profile picture, I assume you to be a White woman. Now, if racial reconciliation is your primary concern with me, has it ever occurred to you that you may not be in the best position to determine what are the concerns of African Americans? Most importantly, have you realized that the inability to respect the concerns of African Americans is actually the crux of the entire problem?
Have you ever considered and recognized this and made a concerted effort to listen to other’s concerns? Not just any people of color that you may have who are friends, co-workers, or even outside of the purview of your community?
Because let me assure you, I didn’t just wake-up one day and say, “You know what? I don’t think African Americans feel like they are being treated fairly or equally in American society.”
Instead, I chose to ask questions and listen. I listened to people of color all over the country. From New York to Los Angeles; to Detroit to Houston. I listened to what people had to say to me without any attempt at creating an environment where I could allow my own preconceived notions diminish or influence what was being expressed.
Essentially, when it comes to concerns I vocalize or various topics I stand in support for, that information comes from the collective composition of what has been expressed to me. Additionally, based on the willingness to seek out and listen to others, I was able to realize it is an impossibility for there to exist some secret African American conspiracy in which people from entirely different locals would voice identical concerns. Now, what might surprise you is that, in light of what is the number one excuse for diminishment, I would say that the echoing of concerns that have been displayed in the mainstream media was very minute and negligible.
Lastly, in response to your supposition of me supporting an “agenda,” let me assure you that additionally, I did not wake-up one day and say, “You know what? I think I’m going to add some physical, mental, emotional, and financial stress to my life because… f*** it, it’s Monday.”
Basically, what agenda do you possibly think I am pushing and for what reasons? Financial? Is that it? Do you consider me to be a cog in some secret new world order's scheme of socially engineered chaos? Because, let me assure you, if that is it, I have nothing to hide. I’ll gladly release my tax returns. I don’t make a dime off of any of this.
The only wealth I get from anything I’ve ever done is the belief that some people may consider something I say in the context of their own lives and it brings about a desire to live a more meaningful or happy existence. This includes a willingness to engage with their fellow man in a sense of shared togetherness and respect.
Ultimately, my “agenda” is exactly that. To attempt to bring something positive to others and hopefully inspire them to treat others empathetically, with compassion and have a love for the richness of diversity. Anytime I may act contradictory to that I am always willing to engage in self-examination and self-modification. Beyond that, I will not apologize and I will not feel bad for what ultimately is my “agenda.”
If that “agenda” upsets you, I by all means highly encourage you to unfollow me. That’s the virtue of not being concerned about financial gain in regards to what I say. I have no exterior factors that might influence a desire to be more “marketable” to any one category of people or be concerned about those who are overly sensitive to their own confirmation biases. I do however hope that as you go, you might consider some of the things I have said to you today.