Yesterday, while I was enjoying the Labor Day parade in my hometown with my family, our attentions were drawn to the approaching sound of a helicopter. This normally wouldn’t attract anyone’s attentions usually as a helicopter flying around is not uncommon. But as it came closer, what drew parade attenders eyes upward was that it obviously wasn’t the sound of just one, and they were flying rather low. Suddenly they were there, seven of them, flying in a V-shaped formation right over the main parade route. I learned later from a family friend who they were;
“All 7 helicopters were from the Air-One Emergency Response coalition….The two green helicopters are pilot trainers the unit acquired last year from the US Army and the orange and white is a Huey that we use for search and rescue. The black Huey is used for equipment and SWAT team movement and the other 3 black and white helicopters are used for search and rescue in law enforcement support. It was our great privilege to be a part of the funeral for Lt. Joe. See http://www.airsupport.org” (Thank you, Tom, for sharing the facts!)
They were flying so low that we could plainly see three or four men perched on the landing skids of one helicopter as they were waving to everyone on the ground. They continued on north, and we all went back to watching the parade. It wasn’t too long though that we heard them again, heading back and flying just a little to the east of where they first flew over. I snapped a couple pictures on my phone, just because it wasn’t something you see everyday. It was later that evening that I was told those helicopters had been part of the funeral for the slain police officer from Fox Lake, IL; they had done a “missing man” formation over the cemetery.
Sometimes I’m almost afraid to read the news in the mornings anymore. I don’t want to read any more stories about police officers being killed. Don’t get me wrong, I know that line of work has always held some form of risk. My dad was a policeman for more than 25 years and it wasn’t until I was an adult before he shared with me a few of the hair-raising situations he found himself in. But the risk didn’t used to be getting shot while you’re pumping gas. Or having someone randomly walk up to you in your squad car and start firing. He would be greatly saddened to see how his “brothers and sisters in blue” are no longer looked at as protectors, but as targets.
There are, what seems to be, a lot of policemen that live in my neighborhood. We joke sometimes about how stupid someone would have to be to come into this area to rob a house or steal a car. Two of these policemen live on our street and we very often see them out in the yard with their wives and young children. I don’t know these men, but I pray for them often whenever I drive past their houses because I know there are little ones in there who need their daddies to come home each night. I can’t imagine the brave faces their wives must have to put on each time they watch him leave for his shift, praying that they will not receive the same phone call that the wife of the Fox Lake officer received just a few days ago. Because these days, the risk is so much greater. And they have no idea if the seemingly innocent person that they just helped across a busy street isn’t going to pull a semi-automatic out of their bag and take them out.
My question is, how did we as a society get to the point where we think that it is okay to do that?! Have we all really taken complete leave of our senses? Are we so hardened that we instantly hate someone simply because they wear a badge on their chest? When I was a child, all the boys wanted to be a policeman or a fireman when they grew up. Why was that? Because they were seen as being good. They were honorable, they were something positive, they kept us safe. But it seems like in recent years, we as a society have taken such a drastic turn from what is good. Now I’m not so clueless to say that nothing-bad-ever-happened-in-the-world-until-five-years-ago. Bad things have been happening since the dawn of time, and bad people have been the causes behind them. But don’t you ever just sit there in total perplexity and wonder what on earth is going on these days? And I’m not just talking about what our police forces are facing, there are so many other issues going on. Issues where there is little or no common sense applied, where you are expected to hate without reason and acting upon it is acceptable, where the few are allowed bully the many, where words are twisted and debate is forbidden, where it’s getting harder and harder to have your own thoughts and opinions on things. When did simply disagreeing with someone start automatically meaning that you think they are wrong?
Yes, I understand that every issue I just listed is nothing new. I don’t need any replies to my blog asking if I’ve lived under a rock my whole life. But what I do see as being “new” is that despite all of the negative, there still was some good. I was born the same year that a Baptist minister from Georgia was assassinated because of the color of his skin and because he dared to speak out on what was right. But there was still some good. I grew up during the Cold War years, with the threat of nuclear attack always looming and a US/Soviet conflict a common topic even in popular films and music of the day. But there was still some good. But now….I wonder. As my own kids are both nearly grown, what is this world they are going to step into? What is this society that they will be a part of? What is missing now more than ever?
There’s a missing man.
And that man is Jesus. In these days where every other religion in the world demands to be treated with respect, there is one that is allowed to be spit on. There are monuments and statues being built to honor other religions, but there is one whose monuments are being torn down because they are “offensive.” The history of other religions is being taught in our schools, but there is one that is either not taught about at all or is given an antiquated and irrelevant slant. How have we as American Christians come to the point where we no longer stand and fight for what we believe just as much as any other world religion? Why did we all decide to give up? Because to me, it seems like when we gave up is when good started to disappear. Jesus told us that we, as His followers, would be persecuted. How that persecution has looked over the centuries has definitely varied. But never once did His followers back down. Yet today, we have become so conditioned to think that we have to hide what we believe that my son, when making a timeline of his life for a (public) school history class assignment, actually paused to think about whether he should put being baptized as one of the major events of his life!
We are flying around in a missing man formation. And while I definitely do not have all the answers as to how we can fix that, I do know the One who does have all the answers. We need to pay less attention to what others think of us, and be more concerned with what HE thinks. We need to rise up again and say, NO! That’s not right! Because until we do that, things could most likely only get worse. And then whoever is left of us will be sitting in the few churches that haven’t been abandoned and torn down, begging for Jesus to return to take us away from the world we were too afraid to stand up to.
I put a blue bulb in the lightpost in our front yard. It’s not much, but it’s our “public” way of showing support for our police force. I would love to see a day again when a blue light bulb is just that…a blue light bulb. But for right now, I hope the two down the street can see it and know that they go out every day with our love, support and prayers. We don’t need a colored light bulb to show our love and support for Jesus. He IS the light and it shines brighter than anything we could ever imagine. Let’s throw those covers of fear off and show this world what we are really about.
Céad míle beannachta.
(One hundred thousand blessings)