On Leadership and Honor

I stayed away from discussing the news this weekend, as I knew that would be a vortex from which I could not return and there were things that only I could do (in my own life) while the news was being taken care of by a whole lot of you.

By the "news" I mean the ambush and murder of two cops in Brooklyn, a horrific act to be sure. As horrific as any of the senseless deaths that have happened at the hands of police lately.

It is an event that should not have happened, but it's what came after that moved us from the domain of tragedy into the genre of horror.

The reactions of the leaders of New York City's police union, laying the blame for two dead cops at the feet of that city's duly elected mayor and the citizens who took to the streets because their members were derelict in their duty of upholding the public trust is a sign that they are not leaders at all. The honor that comes with wearing the badge stems from the fact that officers put their lives on the line every day, they offer themselves up as sacrifices--if called upon--to defend the public. This is why those who do look up to cops call them heroes. It's not the badge itself, and it's certainly not the gun that makes the profession honorable. It's the act of service.

You wouldn't know that by listening to Patrick Lynch, President of the NYPD Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association over the weekend. I'm finding it hard to hear in the words of Chief Bill Bratton today. You'd think, instead, that the cops were a separate thing from the population. An occupying army at war with civilians. Whose lives were more valuable than those they were sworn to protect.

That's not how this works. That's not where the mandate to carry a gun and the authority to use it comes from. This attitude right there is the whole problem in a nutshell.

Where I do see leadership is from the families of Eric Garner and Michael Brown, who came out quickly and denounced the actions of a lunatic who tried to dishonor their fallen's memory with an act of violent retribution. That's class. That's more class than most American's would muster, I reckon. Maker knows I can't say for sure that I'd have that in me.

Is it absurd that two black families who are mourning their dead felt the need to make a statement about an unrelated crime? Only if you don't understand honor as deeply as they appear to. Only if you understand honor the way Pat Lynch does.