Of Strength and Weakness

When someone suggests, “Write about something that makes you feel strong,” what would come to your mind. In my mind, the questions began. Physically strong? Mentally strong? Emotionally strong? Please give me a little help here. What do you mean by strong?

Of course, one reason to ask that question of another is to see what they think is strong. Here, at this moment, for this exercise, I want to talk about morality. No! I will not delve into a discussion of biblical character compared to social ethics. Rather, let’s think about a topic of personal morality, regardless of a person’s background.

This thought stems from a confrontation with a superior many years ago. It involved a decision made by one of my subordinates that led to a very heated complaint from an indignant individual who, in my opinion, had no moral backbone at all. He simply tried to use his position to create problems for a young police officer following policy, procedure, and law.

The details are of no consequence all these years later. What is of significance was I faced a difficult situation. If I failed to agree to changes that would make the complaining party happy, I could lose my job, which would have essentially ended my career, as no one else would touch me after that.

However, losing my job was the least of the bad results. My agreement with the change demanded would place people at risk. The police officers reporting to me would not know what would happen if they followed protocol and the law. If they did not do their jobs out of fear, the students on campus would be at risk.

The line in the sand was drawn when my boss looked me in the eye and asked a question. “What if I ordered you to change this procedure?” I did not even hesitate to respond. I said, “I would refuse.”

Suddenly, it was a scene from a drama—two dedicated men, suddenly at odds. The ultimatum was given, and the next question was who would blink first. The silence was deafening, and there was a bit of a staring contest. Then my boss, the number two person in the university, nodded, leaned back in his chair, and said, “I understand.” “I’ll tell the chancellor the policy and procedure stands.

In closing, let me make this clear. I could have walked away from that confrontation, high-fiving myself and thinking, “I showed them!” If I had, I would not have shown strength. I would have shown my lack of morality and professionalism.

Instead, I was proud to be working for men who would not cave to threats and lies from someone of privilege who just wanted to throw his weight around.

© oneoldcop.com – 2022

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About S. Eric Jackson

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