You reach into a bag of apples often enough and you eventually will pull out a rotting one. People are no different.
People with decaying values are peppered throughout all of society. They infiltrate not only prisons, but black-tie restaurants and suburbs. They prey on the weak, provoke the most docile-natured individuals to become vigilantes and promote fear to creep across our consciousness, usually via media modes.
I’m not sure how to make the world a safer place, but I am sure that living in constant fear can’t foster peace. I still talk to strangers in line at the grocery store or occasionally roll my car window down and ask a random pedestrian for directions. I believe there’s an inherent goodness that permeates most people — even if it’s been ground into dormancy and sprouted horns of malevolence.
I also believe law enforcement officials aren’t immune to the fungus of greed and brutality that seems to be growing among the masses, but just because an officer here and there is infected with the invisible enemy within doesn’t mean they all are or that society would be safer without men and women in uniform.
People are ultimately safer with laws in place and officers who enforce them, even if all people don’t agree with all the laws.
Offense and defense are the two methods of protection. Police in the past have been playing offense — running after criminals and chasing the latest lead to ensure justice is served. Lately that role was switched and those who swore to protect and serve their neighbors are having to protect themselves.
When shots ring out and bombs explode near those dear badge-covered hearts, officers must scamper to safety — they must run and hunker to survive. Often police are forced to shoot the perpetrators of violence and then accusations fly that the real reason for the shooting was discrimination, black vs. white or rich vs. poor.
I hope in the upcoming days officers develop their true black and white nature — that of a skunk, the most feared animal in the forest, yet no blood does he draw. The skunk is revered simply because of his reputation for using his arsenal wisely, only shooting when an unmistakably ominous threat presents itself. The skunk must be prudent in its defense, it must use due diligence for it knows only a limited amount of spray is available and it takes weeks to produce more.
The black furry creature with the notorious white stripe knows the best defense isn’t an offense of destruction; rather, it’s a fearless attitude in the face of danger and a reputation that promotes peace in unstable environments.
God bless those walking the thin blue line. Whether strutting or tiptoeing along it, they are, for the most part, the Penicillin for a society that’s fallen ill from self-destructiveness. They are not the Black Plague.
Only the officers who’ve become as corrupt as the hostile villains they lock up should find a vocation with less responsibility for public safety and leave the true peace-keepers who are ripe with bravery beneath their protective skins, no matter what color that may be.
Michele Zirkle Marcum is a native of Meigs County, author of “Rain No Evil” and host of Life Speaks on AIR radio.