Though most of us are unaware, we who exercise or have ever exercised, have a treadmill style. There are those who stroll or jog at a slow, steady pace and take-in their surroundings, a book or a television show; those who sprint- focused on pre-set goals; and those who alternate between speeds. Regardless of the style, we all are employing a level of control, in that, we chose to go fast, slow or alternate between the two.
But, what if the treadmill chose our training program for us? What if we stepped on the treadmill and sped up or slowed down at-will? Imagine if you were sauntering along, watching The View when the treadmill suddenly moved from 3.5 RPM to 6.5. Or if you were sprinting while listening to Drake, with sweat running down your face and back when the treadmill quickly slowed to 2.0. In either scenario, guaranteed, you would grab onto the stability bars to regain balance and control.
I assert that we handle life, in general, similarly. We go through life step-by-step at our preferred pace, with a relative sense of control, when now and again, the world as we know it, spontaneously alters. A personal, national, or international tragedy throws us off-balance; and correspondingly, we search for control, or rather, for order. We fixate on the news — repeatedly watching the same footage or reading multiple articles from various periodicals that contain identical information.
We call our friends and theorize: See what I think really happened was . . . . If you ask me . . . .” We have figured out what the FBI and the CIA couldn’t. Some of us become firm in our convictions because admitting that, “I don’t know or I don’t understand” is too scary. We attempt to make sense of senseless events.
We also try to create order by classifying people. Just like in the movies, there are bad guys and good guys. We believe that once we have determined who they are — we can avoid another terrible incident. A guy cheats on you or ruins your credit you deduce that Scorpios are cheaters and vow to never date one again. You have a female boss who constantly criticizes you and hasn’t given you a raise in 5 years and you proclaim that you will never work for a woman again. You will never be friends with a woman who is an only child or a man who was raised by a single mother. As you age, you classify individuals and create broad, group rules in an attempt to avoid painful experiences. These rules provide you with comfort.
This practice is the only way I’ve been able to reconcile the often vicious attacks against the Black Lives Matter movement and the view of it as an anti-police movement. From it’s inception, the Black Lives Movement’s clear focus has been on corrupt, racist, abusive cops (just THOSE cops), who abuse their power and unfairly treat, target and kill Black people without receiving punishment from a racist justice system. Don’t we consistently evaluate and cast out the bad apples in every profession? Don’t we look to point out and exterminate doctors who are uncaring, lawyers who are unethical, teachers who are unprepared? Does that mean that we are anti-doctor, anti-lawyer, or anti-teacher?
Why should police officers be immune to criticism? On the contrary, it seems as if police officers, like doctors, should be held to a higher standard and evaluated very closely since they both make life and death decisions.
Is the assertion that all cops are good? Is the police force the only profession or association that doesn’t have some bad members? Why is the thought that there are some corrupt cops so threatening and upsetting to many? Could it be that from childhood, we are taught that cops are the good guys? Are we so emotionally dependent on believing in the super hero image of cops, that admitting some—even a small percentage—may be abusive causes such a defensive response? Why after watching video after video of disturbing behavior by cops against Black people are many not able to see the fault in even one? One?
Does it scare us—does it make things seem too erratic if you don’t know who the good guys are anymore? Is it easier to make the fed-up whistleblowers, the Black Lives Matter Movement supporters, uniformly bad and to conveniently demonize the platform of the Black Lives Matter movement; than to release that long-held childhood belief of the policeman as our protector and savior?
I recognize that categorizing people and things as bad or good makes us feel safe and creates a sense of order. We almost unconsciously separate bad vs. good whether it be political parties, zodiac signs, sports teams, religions, and so on. Things make sense this way. But understand that this method only provides a temporary and lazy way of coping when life throws us off-balance. Such quick, blind, thoughtless decision-making does not produce permanent solutions. For those, you must press the emergency stop and embrace that life and people are complicated (as scary as that is). Rarely is there a bad and a good. Most things and people are varying combinations of the two. There are some abusive, power-driven cops who have wrongly murdered people; there are some cruel, irrational Black men who have murdered cops. All of these individuals were wrong. They are in the minority and are not representative of police officers or the Black Lives Matter Movement. These individuals were bad—that’s the only classification that is valid.
Let’s create solutions so that bad people (whatever their race or profession) cannot easily do harm because who wins in the scenario where groups are blinded and separated in a fury of righteousness? Do you understand that is war? How many people will die as we cling to the simple fantasy of right vs wrong; good vs bad; the need for cops as a whole to be heroes? We must bravely face life’s complexities, people’s multiplicities and become our own heroes.