“If you're an inspiration I would hate to see your disappointment. You are a disgrace to, the badge and should have yours taken away!”
“Well, sorry that you feel that way. However, you sir, are an inspiration and a demonstration of courage and the enduring spirit that epitomizes all that is right about the law enforcement profession. God bless you and I'm thankful for your courage and contribution to the profession. Now, God has kept you on this earth for a reason. Do you think that was to message me and tell me I'm a disgrace? Honestly? Is that what you think? Because we both know that's not true. I'm willing to speak to you mutually and respectfully, however, that is a decision you have to make. Regardless, God bless you and your family.”
“…I will admit, this was an attempt to get your attention. I do not believe you're a disgrace to, the badge. But I do, think sometimes we need to be a little slower to judge. Thank you for your compliment. I believe God left me on this earth for a reason. One of the reasons I did this, is because you're getting hammered in a lot of places. I'd like to see you keep, a good reputation and not be labeled a blue falcon.”
The proceeding quotes come from an exchange between me and another police officer. The officer messaged me, and as you can clearly see he was upset with something that I had said.
I am not going to give out this officer's name, however, ultimately I meant what I said in my reply. This officer heroically endured a tragic set of circumstance while serving his community and I do consider him to be an inspiration. An inspiration not just to law enforcement, but as an example of the enduring human spirit to succeed and overcome the odds. However, can any of you say that my response to this gentleman would have been your first thoughts after you read his initial message?
Honestly, they weren’t mine.
I would say it would be a safe estimate to suggest that 95% of all people would like to see people get along peacefully. However, I would say that about 5% of all people actually want to put in the work to make that happen. Now, before anyone accuses me of being self-righteous, let me say up front and under no uncertain terms, I fail miserably at doing what needs to be done in working towards many times and undoubtedly I'll fail many times again.
Look… I never said it was easy, but I do understand to an extent what truly needs to be done.
The polarization amongst people ultimately can be very simply understood. If you remove every specific topic imaginable, the fundamental problem boils down to our innate unwillingness to actually want to get along. Sadly, that is the plain and simple truth.
Far too often we say we want to see people get along peacefully. However, what we really mean is that we want people to get along peacefully and see the world through our specific point of view. Ultimately, this is an unrealistic expectation. Consider that out of 7.4 billion people on this earth there are no two people who are alike. Therefore to think that every single person could see the world exactly through another person’s perspectives is illogical and frankly kind of insane.
Incredibly, we often want the world to unite under our unique point of view; however, we very rarely ever want to engage with each other in a manner that would allow for someone to understand our perspectives and views. Far too often our pride and ego get in the way and then we end up with two divergent thoughts caught between two immovable views. Once we reach this place, unity is the furthest thing from anyone’s mind.
“Lieutenant McMillan you make it sound like the world isn't filled with a**holes who make it extremely tough for societies to get along.”
No, trust me I’m well aware that the world is filled with so many a**holes it’s a wonder the entire earth doesn’t smell like s***. Eventually, you cannot control how many a**holes there are on this earth. However, you can control whether or not you are one of them.
"What you showed me with your approach was that you were not, in fact, part of the problem I was addressing, but rather part of the solution."
Around the first of this year, as I scrolled through my notifications, I noticed that someone named Tony Caroselli had mentioned my name in a public status. When you maintain a public Facebook page you are notified every time someone uses your name. For the sake of sanity, I have realized it is often best not to actually look and see what people are saying about you on social media. This is a good way to end up finding yourself inundated with the noxious odor of those a**holes I previously acknowledge exist.
However, as I perused through my notifications I saw that another person had mentioned my name in the same thread. Against my better judgment, I peeked through the edges of my fingers as I covered my eyes and clicked on the link.
“With that said Lt. Tim McMillan… F*** OFF!”
Well, that accounted for one mention of my name, I wonder what the other one was. I scrolled through the comments I found that a friend of Tony's, a young woman named Bonner, had suggested that he reach out to me because she felt like I was genuine in what I was trying to do. Ok, well that was mention number two.
Now conventional wisdom would say that the moment I saw Tony’s comment the best thing to do would be, not to immerse myself in the world’s negativity, any more than any of the rest of already have to endure. However, I believe that anything in this world that can be damaged can equally also be repaired. If human beings can do harm in this world, then we must also possess the ability to heal as well. I try to be strong-willed and stubborn in those beliefs, often that is my best defense in surviving difficulties that come my way.
I could have ignored Tony’s post or I could have told him to “Eat a bag of d***s while he himself was f***ing off.” Instead of choosing either of those options, I went with respectfully approaching him and explaining my position and perspectives in hopes that he would gain a better understanding of who I was.
Months later this is what Tony would say:
“On my initial post that you found, I wasn’t ranting against you personally or even your story. And you’re right. I didn’t expect you would ever find it.”
“What made me angry was that I had seen a lot of memes and news stories and the like about, "Well, hey, look! Here's this one time a cop WASN'T racist!" Which I did and do find offensive because A.) Congratulations on doing what should be the barest minimum of what should be expected of you and B.) Nobody on the side of BLM was saying all cops are racist, or all cops are killers, or all cops are corrupt, and it's really kind of dismissive to suggest that IS what they are saying.”
Inarguably, Tony had told me to “F*** off” but I wasn’t truly the source of his angst. Additionally, once I understood his message in context, I realized this man is no enemy of mine. Rather, he’s actually an ally and friend.
“With your approach, you didn't bring me around to your point of view, because I firmly maintain that same point of view I had before I "Inter-met" you. What you DID do... was show me with your approach that you were not, in fact, part of the problem I was addressing, but rather part of the solution.”
What was the outcome of me taking the road often less traveled that day? Well, Tony and I discovered was we had more in common than we shared in among our differences. Ultimately, we ended up becoming friends, or at least as good of friends as people whose lives span geographical distances can be, through the world of social media voyeuristic friendship.
Eventually, when it comes to trying to overcome visceral social polarization in this world it is going to take some humility from all of us coupled with a true desire to actually get along. Again, by no means am I saying that this is going to be easy. In fact, there are a few tough pills you may have to swallow and consider:
Don’t give people more reason to hate or view others derogatorily. For example, if a person says to me, “I hate Jews” and I reply “Well, Go f*** your mother,” guess what? All I’ve done is given that person a personal experience that affirms the reason they hate Jews. The truth is that 99% of the time a person’s prejudice or hate is a result of a lack of interaction with what they are biased against. If you respond, “I love you” I’m not saying that person’s black heart will instantly thunder to life with love and compassion. However, I am saying you might just add a little bit of red.
Accept that you will fail early and often. That’s right. Try as you might too great your antagonist with warmth, you’re going to indeed find yourself at times telling someone to “eat a bag of d***s.” Just go ahead and accept that’s going to happen and don’t beat yourself up when it does. Instead, just remember what ultimately brings people together and try to be better next time.
When it comes to encountering individuals who refuse to believe truths, these are the instances that can be the most difficult for you to remain calm. However, try to remember something. The further people are from the truth the more they consider a person who turns away from evil to be a fool. When the world lacks enough truth, anyone who wants to turn away from evil ultimately has no choice but to play the fool.
Essentially, you cannot approach others with the desire to always “win.” Because human beings are fallible victory and truth will not always go together. Therefore, if you go through life with the desire to always “win,” you cannot always remain true.
Take comfort in the truth and let that in itself be your win.
Eventually, if unity or peace amongst people were easy we would have mastered it sometime in the last 32,000 years. As impossible and overwhelming as it may seem, the only true way that we continue to hate and kill each other is if we accept defeat and say that humanity as a whole can never win. Don’t worry about how much or how little your neighbor is doing to contribute towards peace on earth. Instead, sweep your own porch and recognize that you can control your own purpose on this earth.
What if God was one of us?
In closing, I’ll say, I knowingly accept the difficulty of legitimately coming together as a human race. However, I’ll pose an interesting philosophical question to everyone, one that was originally proposed in a 1995 song wrote by Eric Brazilian, later recorded by Joan Osborne, "What if God was one of us?"
Suggesting that God could be one of us is such a seemingly direct and simply unadorned statement to make. However, what if indeed we each in our own right contain a piece that comprises the body of God?
What if truly, we all in humanity, collectively are the masters of our universe? This is a widely eccentric view of what we organizationally consider when it comes to the divine. Yet, in this known universe is there anything else that can compare to us human beings?
Consider for a moment what if indeed God was one of us, just a stranger like one of us? Now, think for a moment how would you argue with God or speak to him should you suddenly find yourself face-to-face, with conflicting views. Honestly, it would mean that neither, you nor God, was incorrect in your divergent views. Rather, it would mean that the truth behind your differences was merely just an obstacle meant to be overcome. Not simply overcome for the sake of argument, rather, it would be to foster a closer relationship with each other in the end.
It is easy to have peace amongst that which is identical. However, the greatest peace is the peace between opposites. So what if God was one of us and our differences are merely meant to afford us the ability to have great peace among ourselves?