In the Direction of Light

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As the nation prepares, with all sorts of dark imaginings, for an unpredictable era of governance after Donald Trump’s win at the presidential polls in November, I am recommitting to the lessons of the late Max Ehrmann’s “Desiderata” and those of Don Miguel Ruiz’s The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom. I tell myself that any light emanating from my small corner will diminish whatever darkness may lie ahead at least by that much. And if there is no darkness, then my little light will add to the glow. The “Desiderata” is too long to reprint here, but the four agreements of Ruiz aren’t. They are: Be impeccable with your word (use the power of the word in the direction of truth); Don’t take anything personally (what others say and do are a projection of their reality, not mine); Don’t make assumptions (I should communicate with others as clearly as I can to avoid misunderstandings and drama); and Always do your best (in doing so I will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse and regret). 

 

In the direction of truth and clear communication, I state without shame that I will miss the Obama White House; that I delight in the scramble to plaster lipstick on what is to follow in January; and that I find some consolation in the apology made by Terrence M. Cunningham, president of the International Association of Chiefs of Police, America’s largest police management organization and chief of the Wellesley, Massachusetts, police, for the mistreatment of minorities by police. In the mind-assaulting reportage of the presidential campaign, many may have missed Chief Cunningham’s brave act of contrition. Here, in part, is what he said on Oct. 17, at his association’s convention in San Diego, California:

 

“The history of the law enforcement profession is replete with examples of bravery, self-sacrifice, and service to the community. At its core, policing is a noble profession made up of women and men who have sworn to place themselves between the innocent and those who seek to do them harm… At the same time, it is also clear that the history of policing has also had darker periods. There have been times when law enforcement officers, because of the laws enacted by federal, state and local governments, have been the face of oppression for far too many of our fellow citizens. In the past, the laws adopted by our society have required police officers to perform many unpalatable tasks, such as ensuring legalized discrimination or even denying the basic rights of citizenship to many of our fellow Americans. While this is no longer the case, this dark side of our shared history has created a multigenerational — almost inherited — mistrust between many communities of color and their law enforcement agencies. … While we obviously cannot change the past, it is clear that we must change the future… for our part, the first step in this process is for law enforcement and the IACP to acknowledge and apologize for the actions of the past and the role that our profession has played in society’s historical mistreatment of communities of color. …”

 

With similar bravery, the United States in January 2009 ushered in an era of governance many thought the country would not see in their lifetime. It brought out the best and worst of Americans, the worst fed by lawmakers who publicly vowed to thwart that governance at every turn. Well, here comes January 2017 — and this little light of mine. Peace!      


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