I had an awful experience last week that has haunted me. I didn’t like my reaction or the policeman’s, and it has made me wonder about our society.
I went to the post office and decided to take the other way home which put me into a detour. I turned at the first place I could and saw a line of cars coming the other direction and so figured I was past the problem. Several cars followed me as well. It was a neighborhood street and when I reached the turn to the main street their were cones which I went around. (My first mistake.) A tall red-faced policeman standing across the main street I wanted to turn onto started bellowing at me angrily. “Turn around, that’s what the cones are for!”
I said, “Calm down,” which he couldn’t hear, and then to him pointed and shouted, “I live right over there.”
He took a few steps toward me shouting, Turn around! Turn around right now! “You can’t go that way right now!”
We drivers, of course, didn’t know what had happened, and I thought cops must get so tired of people defying them and questioning them, I felt bad for my pushing. But I also just felt bad for his treatment and demeanor–his losing it, if you will. He was probably 6’4″, a big guy, 40ish, red-faced, angry and shouting.
We live near two schools and I began to wonder if there had been a mass shooting or something. There was nothing on the news when I got home. And an hour later there were three helicopters over our house. I knew it was something bad, and felt worse that I had gone around the traffic cones.
But I did have a thought that has come back again and again. It by no means justifies my behavior, but I have thought how much different the incident would have been if the cop had walked across the street and said to us, “There’s been a bad accident and the street is closed.” It would have been better for him and for us. I remembered a policeman in North Carolina doing and saying something similar 13 years ago, and what a difference!
I wondered if California policemen are just more stressed, or if the last 13 years have made all of them more reactive–maybe all of us?
I found out two days later that it was some kids walking home playing around, and one pushed the other into the street and the fourth-grader was hit by a car and died. It made me sick, last year my grandson was a fourth grader. I have prayed for his family ever since, and felt even worse about my part in my memory. I’ve thought no wonder the cop was unhinged and then also, I could have been less pushy and reactive as well.
Is it that we are losing respect and gentleness as a society? Instead of treating people as having value and taking time, we take offense and react at anger at “my inconvenience” or “my authority questioned” and go off.
It seems the collective consciousness is more uptight–more ready to fight. More hurried, more worried. And Jesus did say, …”because iniquity will increase, the love of many will grow cold.” People are going to stop believing in good, stop believing in God because there is so much hurt and evil around them as God honors the choices of those who don’t want Him. To inactive believers, a loving God won’t make sense anymore.
Do you find yourself losing patience, losing gentleness? More stressed? Is God getting more real or less real in your life? He is gentleness personified, and since I didn’t grow up feeling much of it, that has been wonderful for me. Invite Him to show you His gentleness, and don’t let your love grow cold. Let it grow warm instead. Make the effort to make Him real in your life. He’s worth it.