God’s infinite wisdom is clearly manifested in this concept we call retirement. I am up this morning, coffee in hand, reflecting on an America that is wobbling like a dented top we played with as kids. There are many definitions of “retirement” but only one really matters. When you retire, you are no longer a problem solver on the world’s stage. You are no longer required to make a difference. Let me explain.
I am shaking my head at the police response today. To be fair, the generations before me were shaking their heads at the behavior of my generation when we were the gendarme. I have nothing but respect for the folks on the line today and a wavering respect for their leadership in many cases. It is good that my generation’s opinion on the tactics of today are no longer relevant, as we would be in jail or dead with the skills and tactics of yesteryear. The police are supposed to represent the society they protect, with norms and behaviors reflecting those demands. In the old west, bad guys were quickly dispensed with by the law, with lead or a rope. It was appropriate then, as action had to be taken quickly to prevent almost certain additional death. We have come a long way. When folks like Clyde Barrow and John Dillinger were unceremoniously gunned down, we clapped with glee and applauded the efforts of the police. There may have been an inquest, but it seldom took more than an hour, the graves were closed and the hunt was on for the next miscreant.
I began my career under the tutelage of troopers who handled things in a somewhat refined but definitive way. When our penitentiary erupted in a riot in 1954, the event was short lived. Troopers from all around the state began arriving, and control was quickly and with deadly consequences, restored with the prison population laying facedown, naked in the yard, afraid to move for fear of a swift and likely harsh response. Calm was restored and the prison population was exceedingly reluctant to buck the system for a long, long time. Today, we approach things differently, granting broad concessions to terrorist groups like BLM and ANTIFA, as they burn our cities down and loot the retail world. Previous police generations understood that force, sometimes with deadly consequences, was all that a certain segment of society understood. You cannot meet the rampaging hordes we are seeing today, with fresh water, verbal pleas and a promise of understanding while they burn, pillage and injure the officers that stand between them and honest, morally bound folks. To coddle them is to empower them, and that is exactly what we are doing. My generation of police commanders do not have the patience and wisdom to stand by while folks burn down towns, districts and threaten with impunity. We would be inclined to take the fun out of the riot de jour of today…
That is why I am writing about the sanctity of retirement. I am not expected to respond to the happenings of today. I am expected to sit back and converse with my retired contemporaries about what we would do if we were in charge. We are not and never will be again, and we offer our sincere best wishes to the sophisticated and well meaning current police generation and especially their leadership.
God built a period of decompression into our lives. It is the “golden” years, where talk of health, fishing and travel are the major concerns. We grouse, ruminate and criticize at will, but are expected to offer no solutions beyond the coffee table. My major concern today is Sharon’s ability to catch the big fish of the day and grin impishly at my chagrin. That being said, the thought of crushing the rioters and looters still makes me smile………knocking them out of their recently stolen tennis shoes is an option, or so it would seem.
The Golden Years…….back to fishing!