Black, White and the Gray In Between

When I was in the Navy, I was taught there was more than one way to accomplish a goal. Sometimes you had to think outside the box to get things done.

I carried that philosophy throughout my life because I believe that those who succeed in life and make the world a better place, sometimes have to break rules for the right reasons so long as the goal didn’t violate ethics, morals or cause anyone harm. Without this philosophy and practice, lessons can’t be learned and progress can’t be made. Without progress, where would we all be?

As a law enforcement officer, I was taught I had discretion, something I have never forgotten how to use. I can’t even begin to count how many people I’ve let go with a warning for a traffic violation. Many times I’ve blatantly asked them if they preferred a lecture or a ticket and I like to think the lecture is more effective because knowledge is power, but financial burdens don’t do anything but create divide.

There have been countless times I’ve been forced to stand up to corporate America and it’s managements who’ve insisted I arrest someone for shoplifting things such as toilet paper or batteries and essential items necessary to life. I’ve made waves when I’ve refused to make those arrest and instead “filed charges” for the state attorney’s office to decide whether an arrest was necessary. I can’t think of a single occasion a prosecutor has disagreed with me after reading my report which explained the entire story beyond the “black and white” view of “they were stealing and that is against the law”.

Instead of I provied resources to the “thief” and pointed them in a direction to get help and assistance so they wouldn’t find themselves in the same situation again. I am assuming that has worked because I never responded to another call on that person again. As cops, we know our “frequent flyers” who don’t want help and prefer a life of crime, these are the individuals that plague our society and don’t learn from the warnings and breaks they get from law enforcement only to continue a life of crime until they go to far and end up in prison or worse… dead.

Discretion is an important tool, not just in law enforcement but in every occupation. This Covid crap has robbed our society of all common sense. “Everyone must wear a mask! No exceptions!” That is the biggest crock of shit there is these days. What if you’ve already had the virus? What if you’ve had the vaccine? What if your asthmatic and rebreathing your own carbon dioxide is harmful? What if you have PTSD and anything that makes you feel your airway is obstructed is a trigger for you to have an anxiety attack which can make for a very bad day?

Why must our entire society change their ways of living a free and happy life for the risks of a few? Especially when the survival rate is over 99%?!

Why should an elderly woman in ICU be deprived of spending quality time with her young adult teenage granddaughter, especially when that teen has been in quarantine herself for six weeks? What is more harmful? Bending a hospital rule or allowing an old woman to spend time with her only grandchild during what might be her final days on earth? I don’t think it takes a rocket scientist to figure out mental health plays a huge part in someones physical health and vice versa.

I am angry because the way I was raised to use my God given common sense and methods of problem solving seem to no longer exist in our society, thus creating a generation of robotic citizens who can’t think outside the box when problems arise. The world is not black and white, it is full of gray and the only way to make progress is to know how to navigate it while standing up for what is right.

I was trained to make decisions, right or wrong, make them and have a good reason for them. There are exceptions to every rule and so long as a person can articulate why they made a decision, even if it was against the rules, that is how lessons are learned and progress is made.

As the saying goes, “Sometimes it’s best to ask for forgiveness than it is permission”. I sure wish some of these philosophies would get put to use more often.

That’s my .02 as 2020 comes to an end. Here’s hoping 2021 will be a whole lot better!

Wake up America.. before it’s too late.