Several years ago, I was driving home from visiting my mom. I was driving down I-29 on a bright, sunny, September afternoon. I popped over a hill top and a Missouri Highway Patrolman was sitting in the median running radar. Evidently, I was going a too fast because I got pulled over. I think I was going 12 over. Not horrible but good enough to get stopped.
I pulled as far to the right as I could, even putting my right wheels off of the road. I rolled down my window, got out my driver's license, proof of insurance and police id. Like it or not, most cops don't write other cops tickets so I was identifying myself as law enforcement. The sergeant asked me where I worked and I told him and then he proceeded to start chewing me out. He said he is a sergeant just like me and why would I disrespect him like that? Seriously? I never tried to disrespect him. I accidentally went over the speed limit. If the roles were reversed I would have simply told him to have a nice day. But he seemed to take my speeding on his highway as a personal affront.
He went back to his car and did whatever he did and came back and gave me a warning but he treated me a like a jerk the whole time and left a bad taste in my mouth. Let me start off by saying, I have a lot of respect for troopers. Sure, I poke fun maybe--saying they are just tail light chasers and wear funny hats. But in reality, the reason I got into law enforcement was to be a trooper and they do a dangerous job all alone for the most part. As I drove off, I was upset at the way I had been treated even though I didn't get a ticket. I would have preferred a ticket to being the way I was treated.
I try to teach my officers to treat everyone they come into contact with like they would want their wife or parents to be treated. Treat people the way they would like to be treated. This is easier sometimes than others. Sometimes cops have bad days. Sometimes we get burnt out dealing with the same stuff day in and day out. Sometimes people just push the right buttons. Sometimes, well, sometimes officers are just jerks. That's who they are. But that is what I expect--for officers to treat people the way the would want to be treated. Sometimes the way they would expect to be treated--after all, sometimes you can't always be nice. Some people need to be taken to the ground.
I think they do a really good job at it. Several times a week, I try to ask citizens who they were treated on a scale of 1-10. Most often they give a 10 or above--even if they are being taken away in a paddy wagon. Sometimes they even say thank you after they've been given a ticket.
I think this is an important quality to have in life wherever you are---to treat everyone the way you'd like to be treated. I would say, it's even a sin not to. After all, Jesus tells us in this weekend's gospel that the second greatest commandment is to "love your neighbor as yourself." That's a big challenge if you think about it. I love myself a whole lot. I feed myself. I clean myself. I put a roof over my head. That's how we are to love our neighbor. We are to do what we can do to help our our neighbor to heaven. Not easy at all.
And that is the easier of the two commandments I think. For the first is to love God with our whole heart, our whole mind and our whole soul. Lord, give me the grace to do that because I really want to love you with my whole heart mind and soul. But I'll be honest, I can't get passed the whole loving myself thing much less to love my neighbor the same way or to love you with everything I have and am.
Those are two qualities we are all supposed to have. They aren't "goals." Imagine a world where everyone loved God with everything they had and also loved their neighbors as themselves. I think if we did that I might be out of a job.
Monsignor Quixote by Graham Greene
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