Tuesday, April 17, 2007

The Police Cannot Protect You

We live in a world of leverage, in which a small amount of human effort and knowledge can control vast amounts of energy. That energy can be used for good, and almost all of the time, it is. Cranes, jackhammers, SUVs, guns, airplanes -- all of these things have tremendous destructive power. When used appropriately, as they almost always are, they make our lives much better. When used poorly, they give us the power to destroy.

Laws cannot protect you.

There are laws against killing people, laws against stealing, and laws against just about everything someone doesn't like. In places where its illegal to have guns, people still have guns, and people still die. People still kill people, and they always will. Our society works on the premise that people will behave themselves. If they will not, then the American Experiment will be shown a failure.

"You cannot legislate morality" means exactly that: laws change only the law-abiding, and a certain number will always ignore the law when you least expect it.

The police cannot protect you.

There is no guarantee of police protection. There is no service level agreement, nor even an agreement that one neighborhood will be served by police as well as the next one. Police cannot be everywhere. If a person is willing to give up his life, there is nothing the police can do to stop him or her from committing any number of violent acts.

Make no mistake: the police were not responsible for the shootings at Virginia Tech, Columbine, or those by the DC Snipers.

Being a good person cannot protect you.

Evil people bent on killing others make no distinction between who gave the most to charity or who volunteered at the homeless shelter. The level of kindness, integrity, and generosity with which you live your life may not make it into that final conversation -- and there may not be a final conversation. But if there is, there is no reason to believe that anyone already set to kill will be dissuaded by a history of goodness.

Even God cannot (or will not) protect you.

We are all going to die some day. God allows wickedness in the world, including the level of wickedness needed to look into the eyes of and kill, one by one, a group of thirty people.

Only you can protect you.

Only you will be there when your life, or your family's life, is on the line. Only you will be there to see the murderer coming down the hall. Only you will be there. The question is: will you be there, standing in the moment, or will you hide your face and wish it all away?

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