A few weeks ago, I wrote a column trying to show support for our police during some turbulent times. We have not experienced most of the problems that large city departments across the U.S. have faced recently, but our officers confront many of same risks inherent to police work. Among the dangers is the need to make split-second decisions about how to react to a potential threat.
I wrote in my column that the murder of police officers in Dallas, Texas, occurred while people were demonstrating “over the deaths of unarmed African-Americans in Minnesota and Louisiana.” My comment was based on news reports I had seen and was not intended to be any kind of judgment about whether those who died were armed or not. I think most of us understand that law enforcement officers sometimes have to use their weapons without knowing if someone is carrying a gun. The men who died in both Minnesota and Louisiana were carrying weapons, and I apologize to anyone who might have been offended by my error. The larger point I was trying to make is that we all share the burden of making our communities safe places to live, and we do little to further that cause by angrily pointing fingers at the police or anyone else.
Last week I wrote about being considerate of others, which, in my opinion, includes the need to distinguish between honest mistakes and deliberate misrepresentations. I wrote: “Thoughtful people understand that all of us make mistakes, confuse facts, and are, with distressing frequency, dead wrong. The best way to correct these mistakes is honest communication unhindered by name calling or other forms of humiliation that create barriers to understanding.” I have spent a good share of my working life trying to do my bit to make local governments work better. Even the very best people and places need to keep improving in order to stay ahead of the many forces (natural and man-made) that work to tear us down. We can’t do better if we are not willing to honestly discuss our differences of opinion and find ways to constructively resolve them.
All of this may be my long-winded way of saying that I appreciate responses to things I write that might strike a bad chord or otherwise provoke an unpleasant response. Having made the decision to express my thoughts in writing every week, I have to accept that people will sometimes find fault with what I’ve written either because of my mistakes or by virtue of a different point of view. Please feel free to let me know if that happens. I can’t guarantee that I will always agree or change my opinion. I can guarantee that I will respectfully consider whatever I’m told.