I was proud and moved to participate in opening ceremonies at the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington, D.C., commemorating National Police Week.
President John F. Kennedy signed the proclamation in 1962 designating May 15 as Peace Officers Memorial Day and establishing the week in which this occurs as National Police Week.
It seems another strange and discomforting irony that the president who moved to establish a national day and week to memorialize police officers who have fallen in the line of duty is a president who himself was murdered.
Scripture always speaks loudest to me, so the inscription on the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial taken from the opening verses from Proverbs 28 immediately jumped out and captured me:
“The wicked flee when no man pursueth. But the righteous are bold as a lion.”
The verses that immediately follow, which don’t appear, are equally worth noting:
“When the land is sinful, its princes are numerous: but when there is a judicious man, knowing what is right, he shall endure.”
King Solomon, the author of the Book of Proverbs, the wisest of kings, shows the timelessness of wisdom. His words of thousands of years ago ring true to us today.
Indeed, in our nation today, our “princes are numerous.” That is, government grows and grows.
Our debt ceiling debates reflect government that has grown far beyond our resources. And this is happening, and getting worse each day, because we look to government to solve problems for which individual citizens should be taking personal responsibility.
As I write, news is reported of yet another pointless, meaningless, gratuitous act of violence and murder. Three civilians were killed and two police officers in New Mexico were shot by a berserk individual with a gun. The report includes the now all-too-familiar words: “A motive is also unknown at this time.”
The Hill, which reported the story, conveys, “According to the nonprofit Gun Violence Archive, the country has logged more than 200 mass shootings since the start of the year.”
A just and peaceful society must have an outside and an inside.
On the outside, we have government, laws, and peace officers patrolling our streets, whom we choose to recognize and honor during National Police Week.
Those incidents, which are really the exception to the rule, when policemen act wrongly, get disproportionate attention.
Because we have become a society with no inside, just an outside, we’re always looking for whom to blame. The last place we want to look is inside ourselves.
But a society must have an inside as well as an outside.
As The Wall Street Journal recently reported in its new poll with NORC at the University of Chicago, only 39% today say religion is “very important” to them, compared to 62% in 1998 who said religion is “very important.”
Only 31% of those under 30 say religion is “very important.”
Unfortunately, these polls do not ask individuals who say religion is not important how they discern right and wrong, or even if there is such a thing.
The “inside” rules, which shine the light for self-governance, are flickering or gone altogether. The result is the chaos we are now experiencing.
Fortunately, we still have brave and principled men and women who are willing to put on a uniform; patrol our cities at personal risk; and help maintain the law, order, and peace without which no society can function.
But as part of honoring them, let’s step up and let them know that we’re in the game with them.
Restoring an “inside,” recognition of right and wrong, and personal responsibility in a society in which these are becoming lost is not easy.
One way to start is, when we hear politicians saying our answers are in more government, more spending, more politics, know it’s time to change the channel.
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