Thursday, 9 April 2015
I've just spent an hour reading about drug use and the influence it has on a society. I'd started reading it as a zero tolerance hard liner, albeit with a side dish of wanting to see cannabis legalised, but emerged acutely aware that my thinking has been all wrong on the matter. One hour; that's all it took for years of entrenched thinking to be cast into the wilderness. This makes me either one of two things. I'm either easily swayed and extremely credulous, or simply open to new information. It's the latter, in the event you were wondering. By the way, that isn't the subject of this blog, but during reading this inspirational piece I noticed a phrase which cut through me like a hot knife through butter. One of the contributors used the term "Re-humanising", and it hit me like a brick in the face. Ok, time to provide a context. I've been doing my job for eight years now. Eight years on the frontline, as the first point of contact in this nations efforts to maintain law and order. During this time I've undergone a widening schism, which has left me with compassion for the victims of crime, but none at all for those who perpetrate it. I'd annexed the two in my mind, and now I realise that I've been simply errant in this. And in doing so the dangerous nature of my thinking has been bought into stark relief. I have de-humanised a huge chunk of the society whom I promised to serve. I've allocated a worthy and unworthy status to whole chunks of the nation, making sweeping and clumsy generalisations as I crashed through a fog of self imposed ignorance. Now don't misunderstand me; I believe those who wrong society should be subject to correction, but I've equated the punishment of the guilty with some kind of levelling of the scales. Serve your time and let's move on. So simplistic that it actually beggars belief. I've failed to understand how those of us who seek to impose justice are actually net contributors to many of the issues we seek to resolve. Creating an us and them, making integration and connection and empathy so much more difficult. In short, I have been primitive, heavy minded, and quite often dismissive towards a huge swathe of society. Now do not misunderstand me; I will always be first and foremost an advocate of the victim, but I want to widen my lens and obtain a deeper understanding of those who walk darker paths. It's all common sense when you think about it, but it has been lost amidst the continual barrage of criminality I face during my working hours. I'm not saying that all persons are equally deserving of respect, because I happen to think that consistently behaving in a criminal fashion says something significant about an individual. What I do want to do is to factor in the deeper narrative, to paint in slightly less sweeping brush-strokes, and for reasons that are, strangely, quite selfish. I don't want to become too hardened. I don't want to sacrifice my own humanity in my rush to judge others. What a horrible sacrifice that would be. Oh, and if you're wondering if there is a take home message in today's blog then I can assure you that there is not. I'm doing this to blow away the cobwebs in my own thinking, to angst out loud. The message is from me and for me. If you find something in it that is useful to you then that's a bonus, but not the reason why I put these thoughts down.