Saw a police van and immediately slowed down while driving.
I do it all the time, even if I’m well within the speed limit. Habit, I guess. Always feel that I’ve done something wrong. Guilt seems to rise to the surface whenever I see police.
It can happen in a restaurant. I could be clean as a whistle. (By the way, what does that really mean? A lack of spittle in the whistle? Then it would be “dry” as a whistle, right?) I mean, I could be holding nothing — nothing that could even vaguely resemble contraband –no drugs, no weapons, not even an impure thought or desire. And here it comes, a big: “uh, oh, what did I do?”
Is it simply human nature? Perhaps a trace of left-over “Original Sin” that nuns used to ram down some of our Catholic-growing-up throats?
Or, are we really still rebels deep inside; wanting to live our lives outside the box, have fewer restraints, fewer “shall-nots.” Remember, there were more than 10 Commandments presented by God to Moses. He ended up chiseling just the first ten into stone for the Israelites. You look at a Bible and I think you may find dozens, if not hundreds, of more orders given to the “Chosen People” from on High.
Police represent authority. We gladly grant them that for our own protection, and we praise the men and women who give us their all through their career choices. At least, I have grown to feel this way.
Yet, I remember a time growing up and fearing the police who sometimes went beyond the law to enforce the law. Particularly, against us “corner loungers,” the kids that didn’t disperse as quickly as a rookie cop may have liked; or the ones that couldn’t keep their mouths shut and had to say something that got us all in trouble with the police. When a cop couldn’t figure who broke “his” law, then we all got blamed for doing it.
Still, you could have grown up with no juvenile delinquents in your block or town. You could be the most law-abiding youth ever to be raised in these United States of America. I bet you still get a slight twinge when you see police, a twinge that at least one, or perhaps both, of your parents instilled in you while correcting some early wayward action. Admit it.
And that’s okay.
I think it has to do with the child in us. The child that knows perfection doesn’t exist, and that we all fall short of somebody’s rule. Police become a reminder that we are still trying to improve our lot, and there will be failings; we’ll always make some mistakes and ignorance of the law will never be a valid defense.
I guess I’ll take comfort the next time I feel like “ducking” upon seeing the “Man.”( Philadelphia lingo for the police.) They’ll be a reminder that I am only human, mistake prone, and how I need to keep “practicing” if I ever want to come close to perfection.
* * * * * * * *
Another thought. Do you think Jesus or Buddha ever had a “twinge” when seeing authority? Christ never had a liquor license for changing water into something more “libatious” did he? And what ordinance do you think Buddha sidestepped when seeking alms outside village gates? Both spoke to large assemblies with no prior government permits. And both preached about a “Higher Authority,” that required no permission to leave a physical state to visit a spiritual one: “Heaven” in one language, “Nirvana” in another. You could skip the visas or passports when you traveled “within,” they might have told their followers.
Don’t feel as bad about the police now. It’s always good to look at law from a historic, spiritual perspective, doesn’t it, my “law-abiding” friend?
My ‘twinge’ in regard to the police is directly the result of knowing THEY carry lethal weapons–guns and such. Having witnessed some serious lacks of judgement that resulted in uncalled for violence–I hence wish to keep far away from all gun toters.
Really, truly? While I appreciate your reticence when it comes to people who are carrying who also happen to have poor judgment, I don’t personally tend to lump every person in the same category.
Depends on the part of the country one comes from (or whose history guns helped to demoralize a people) whether a gun is seen as a means of self defense and/or sport, ie, for hunting, target shooting, etc., or by criminals seeking cheap thrills with suffering done to others.
Hell, I was so good with a weapon, I scored the Army’s highest test at the firing range, getting award a “sharpshooter” medal. Or was that “expert?” Maybe both, depending on the type of rifle or semi-automatic or automatic weapon placed into my city-boy hands.
Still remember how to use one, but hope I never have to . . .
Michael, I can relate to that feeling of “oh, oh” whenever I see the police. I have observed that tendency in myself and often wondered at it.
Like you said, 98% of the time, I know I’m innocent… yet still look down at the speedometer. I think there really must be a lingering sense of shame. I see this at work in my job as well… there’s something with authority figures that bears more scrutiny, methinks.
Hoping you have a wonderful Christmas! I still haven’t even wrapped the present and God knows where the stockings are!
Hope those present all got wrapped so they could all be pulled apart for the goodies they covered.
I got a “disabled veteran” license plate for the sole reason of seeking some pity from any cop who may pull be over. I have never had one do it yet, but I feel I need to almost immediately get a cop on my side should he stop me.
I am White and feel this way.
I wonder how African Americans feel about the police? Ever hear of “driving while Black?” It is something you come across in urban centers and happens to all, some lawyers and judges I have known in my career.
Yes, it needs more scrutiny, but lets safe that for another day well after the new year.
Oddly I don’t find myself feeling guilty when I see a policeman. I admit to being an avid speeder and so I should, but I don’t. Perhaps it has to do with the letting go process I have been dealing with of late.
Letting go in the presence of a policeman sometimes can lead to a waiver of one’s right to remain silent, or worse, having to purchase tickets to the Policemens’ Ball.
anything you say can be used against you!
Alas it is so, which is why I have a January 7th court date. I’m a speeder from way back. And so it goes…
As your lawyer, I advise you to plead “not guilty” to the offense which carries automatic points, and plead “guilty” to a lesser offense without points.
Cost you the same, and you can speed away free of any mandatory “hits.”
My fee is now in the mail.
Why thank you kind sir. Thankfully I haven’t been caught in quite some years (notice the caught portion of that statement) and so can handle the 6 points for doing 81 in a 55. Thankfully my record is clean enough that I’ll take the 2 point defective vehicle and run with it. Obviously running is safer than driving for me at the moment. 🙂
I hope you don’t get another speeding ticket, Jesse, because you might be required to take a drivers’ class to help you learn the lessons of the road. That’s what they do in Pennsylvania. When a person gets more than 3 points, “corrective” action is mandatory. You gotta take a course on driving.
That means you get only one “free ride.” The next ticket costs you time and money and can pave the way for a possible suspension.
Rage . . rage . . . rage against the Ticket and never, ever plead guilty when you can work within the system to keep “your system” more intact.
Ahhh the fear of the police; a constant paradox subject.
I of course have it too, the fear of the police, that is to say since I live here in Germany. In Iceland we don’t fear the police, not ever. Even not after the police rightfully told me off after we six years olds had set fire to a whole house; no we continued to loved the police. It was our friend, and still is.
But here in Germany, oooooooo. Even the uniform gives you the shivers; it is brown! The whole Nazi landscape was brown, how can authority still wear brown and expect us citizen not to fear it?!? But perhaps thats exactly what they want? I don’t know. Fact is the german police brings out the worst in me yet at the same time it constantly provides with an opportunity to practice serenity because they are all over with their preconceived judgment and rigidity plastered on their faces.
If the world is a reflection of myself it seems I still have lots to master…
Happy policeless celebrations 🙂
In reading your post, what leapt to mind is “give unto Caesar what is Caesar’s.
I enjoyed your last question; Did Jesus and the Buddha have those “twinges’? I would think so in the case of Jesus as he was treated as a common outlaw. Yet, he never argued against their role. Rather, he looked to the eternal things in a Kingdom largely unknown to the municipal bureaucrats. The police play an important role to be sure, and they are men and women with all the same flaws. They too get full of themselves and become intoxicated with power.
I find myself especially interested in the selection process. Who gets chosen to be on the force and why? It seems to me that many are attracted for the wrong reasons and that just sets the stage for abuse of power. I think Jesus and Sakyamuni would spend more time studying the heart of a man who serves to see through artifice to the core.
I don’t think many people join a police force for any “ignoble” reason. Some, perhaps. I believe most start with the best intentions, to faithfully serve their fellow man.
Like any position of authority — be it government (police are simply an arm of the executive branch), private business, or even a religious order — power can corrupt.
I think the only true test to determine if a person is fit to wield authority is, possibly, through the test of time.
It would be nice to have a more . . . I don’t know . . . more “ethical” screening? Like the one we give to those becoming lawyers.
(Uh, oh. I better quit while I’m practicing meditation, rather than practicing the law.)
Well, I think it’s like the one I write about the scary feeling being a human. I’m having that state of mind when driving around police car too. But, I always like to think that police is basically human too, that will help reduce the feeling of being afraid.
I can see you’re studying Buddhism as well. Am I right?
Yes, I am taking the first step on a Journey to . . . perhaps . . . India.
To visit within without renewing a passport or passing through a metal detector.
Oops. Gotta get out of the police story mindset. I see meditating as a way of life for me, with a Buddhist-leaning compass pointing out a direction.