The Enemy is Us

By Don Hall

If you hire soldiers to become policemen, civilians become the enemy.

We are a violent species. Looking throughout the recorded history of humankind, it is an inescapable conclusion. Every single major shift in leadership, in civil rights, in the very fabric of civilized culture, has come as a result of great violence.

Every single one of us has that streak within. We are all capable of great love, great sacrifice and great violence. Assume you are different or better or superior and you will be proven wrong by circumstance.

You walk your journey with the pose of someone who does not believe in violence, who practices non-violence on a daily basis, who preaches the idea of non-violent resistance to tyranny until...

... someone cuts you off in traffic.
... someone vandalizes your property.
... someone harms the ones you love.

... and then, in an instant, thoughts of violence and anger overwhelm you.  Whether you behave violently is a choice rather than an anomaly. We make these choices every single day of our lives—love or hate, self-interest or self-sacrifice, peaceful resolution or violent reprisal. To pretend otherwise is to foment the lie that there are some who are just naturally inclined toward the dark side of humanity and some more naturally inclined toward diplomacy. White or black, American or German, male or female—underneath all of the constructs of society we are all the same. To deny this is to participate in the Great Follies of Nationalism, Racism, Religious Persecution and Gender Bias.

We now have a completely unique circumstance that has arisen within our police departments nationwide. First came the mercenary. Soldiers, trained to fight and kill the Enemy, trained to follow orders without question, trained to rely only upon other like-minded soldiers, suddenly had employment opportunities outside of the military—Blackwater and other companies like them. Freed from the chain of government command, these trained soldiers now could make serious dough using their learned skills under corporate command.

In the past decade, these soldiers cum mercenaries have come home and needed employment and for the first time in modern history have chosen, in the greatest numbers of our times, to join the police forces of our cities. Now, under the guise of "serving and protecting" many of them bring with them not only the skills of war but the attitudes that war taught them. Fight and kill the Enemy, follow orders and rely solely upon those wearing the same uniform for support and guidance.

Only now the Enemy is us.

Fueled by a media narrative that places Law & Order as the Righteous Cause and, for the most part, the poorest of our people (most of whom tend to be dark in skin color) as the Villains, the propagandized tale of the Justified Brutality of Vengeance against Those Who are Different and Will Take Our Stuff has been cemented in our daily walk. When the civilian becomes a source of derision and is seen as an obstruction to doing duty, the civilian becomes the Enemy. "He should've of complied with the officer," is the standard party line. "Do what the officer tells you to do and he (or she) won't arrest/physically assault/kill you."

 
 

"You can't handle the truth."

This is the mantra of the police in so many of our cities. This is the argument being made.  

As in all truly compelling justifications for brutality, there is merit in it. There is truth. We revile the brutality of the police but secretly want them to be as brutal to those who violate us. Think for a moment of the rage felt by a woman raped or the revenge fantasies of a man whose child is shot in the street. It is in these moments of duress, of pain or fear that the choices we make are important. It is in the moments of potential peril or anguish that the choices we make actually count.

Every day we are faced with choices. And we choose, every day, how to proceed.  

Every one of us is capable of evil and every one of us is capable of good.

This is why choke holds are banned.
This is why the police should be monitored.
This is why we need to reverse the Cop Porn Indoctrination of the Media.

Not because the police officers are bad or brutal or out of control. Because they are no different from the rest of us. Which means that some are bad and brutal and out of control.