“How do you respond? What do you say?”
That was the question asked of me today by my mom. A very, very distant family member made a comment about an officer who died in the line of duty and how “he deserved to die”.
Poor woman was dumfounded. Shocked. Mad. Sad. Shaking. Visibility upset. You name it. I’m sure you’ve shared the same emotions. Let’s be honest. We’ve all seen “those” comments around the internet. We’ve seen them on Facebook, Reddit, Instagram, Imgur, news sites, etc… This is something that we’ve all experienced.
There are times when you really don’t know what to say. There are times when you’re beyond mad. As if your child drew on your car with rocks. Times when you are sad. You mourn for the officer you don’t personally know, but you know. As if you were best friends. You want to jump through the screen and take away the keyboard from the keyboard warrior. But you can’t.
Do we become so jaded by the comments that after years we shrug them off and try not to think about it? We do our best to ignore these comments until we have to deal with them face-to-face. Like when your child gets off the school bus crying because an older boy found out her daddy is an officer and this lovely child looked at your child and says, “Your dad’s a cop? You know he’s going to die. He’s going to get shot in the head and die. Then you won’t have a dad anymore and he’ll be dead.” As you hug your sobbing child and attempt to ease her mind by telling her daddy is highly trained. While deep down you’re praying that you never, ever have to break that news to your kids.
We know the statics and we do our best to use them against the haters but we know nothing will change their mind. They have a deep-rooted hate for our spouses, brothers, sisters, friends. We know that these comments are a dime a dozen anymore. It saddens you. It hardens your heart. You try to let them roll off your back. You pray extra hard for them. You curse their name. You cope the way you know best.
You hug your loved one extra hard for their next shift. You remind them to buckle up and be careful. Wear their vest. Practice their techniques. Make sure they are well fed and hydrated. Encourage them to spend 1:1 time with the kids. Let them spend an extra 10 minutes on storytime. Turn up the music and dance silly in the kitchen. Make an attempt for that date that you never go on.
You do what you can to show your officer they are loved. You tune out the real world. You shut down other peoples problems and opinions. You focus on the now. This moment. You forget what they do and who they deal with.
So how do you respond? What do you say? You know reality and you do your best to ignore it. You keep on loving the badge, the officer, the man/woman behind that badge. And you keep this quote in the back of your pocket as a reminder, “I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.