The other day I was talking to a cop who was guarding the scene of dead body, and when I said that I was sorry he had to be around death, he said to me:
‘That’s OK. I don’t think [its] any great loss to society.’
Now, I know this person is used to dealing with the scum of the earth, does not handle seeing death very well and has the emotional maturity and empathy of a dumpster but I still felt that I needed to address what he’d said. I was not offended by what he said because he’s an only child and is a bit naive to the seedier parts of life. So I told him:
‘I mean, some would have said that about my brother.’
My brother was an alcoholic….and had been since we were kids. He was a product of his genetics and a shitty environment that he wasn’t strong enough to get out of. To anyone on the outside looking in, his death probably wasn’t a great loss to society. But to my dad? To his brothers? His death was, and still is a great loss.
I wanted officer clueless to know that although his response was a coping mechanism to help him deal with the ugliness he sees on the job, he needed to remember that while he sees a druggie who overdosed in the woods, that person was someone’s son, that person was a friend, a brother, a cousin, a person. Officer Clueless did apologize, it’s not like he knew the details of my brother’s life, but I still felt that it was one of those dreaded ‘teachable moments’ that may come in handy for the future.
I’ve been having trouble sleeping lately, and after that conversation I was awake for awhile thinking about my brother, but also thinking about how easy it is for people to make statements like that. When did we forget to be compassionate? When did we forget that for some, addiction is a disease, not always a choice, and while, maybe not always pillars of the community, or always willing to get sober or stay sober, that these people deserve some dignity as well?
When did we become more interested in cancelling people than offering redemption or a chance for growth and understanding? When did we lose our sense of compassion? I’m not saying that there are some things that aren’t unforgivable. There are a lot of things that I would be reluctant to forgive, and there are people in this world that I think are too ignorant for an opportunity for redemption and understanding, but there are some people out there who don’t always get a fair shake, and it is all too easy for us to judge from the outside looking in.
So next time you find yourself in this type of position or encountering this type of person, try to be a bit more understanding and a little more compassionate….and because I have been on my soapbox enough, and I have a very early Zoom meeting, I’ll leave you with one of the only really good pictures of Eric Davis, because although he may not have always been a great member of society, he was a grandson, a son, a brother, a cousin, a friend, and a person.