A.M. Rosenthal said, “The health of humankind is not measured just by its coughs and wheezes but by the fevers of its soul. Or perhaps more important yet, by the quickness and care we bring against [the fevers].”
There are a special group of people, intensely selected and trained to stand between the Good and Evil of humankind and they are running a fever, or maybe better stated, their soul is running a fever.
We make sure that our officers are physically fit, well trained, issued body armor and protective gear and then we send them into the chaos of a world that has become more lawless, less respectful, increasingly violent, and insatiably selfish.
We call them to handle our problems, settle our disputes, and avenge our atrocities on one another. And they deliver, in amazing ways. We expect them to put their lives at risk and they do, without ever asking for recognition or thanks. I wonder if we realize that we also ask them to put their soul at risk?
On average, every year, 150 officers are killed in the line of duty, 60,000 are assaulted, 20,000 injured. As important as these statistics are, I believe there is an even greater threat that affects every one of the over 800,000 officers across our country.
It is impossible to interact with so much evil and senseless tragedy and not have it affect you. Cops are people who sacrificially give of themselves along with their loved ones who sacrifice silently alongside them. Recently, an officer who had just experienced another senseless death of a child, stated, “I don’t know why this is getting to me, I see this all the time, it’s never gotten to me like this before.” With tears streaming down his face, it was clear his soul had been wounded just as deeply by this child’s death as any bullet fired into his body.
It is the soul that remains troubled long after the call has been answered, the paperwork filed, and the uniform is removed. It is the troubled soul that keeps the mind spinning and sleep from blanketing us in it’s embrace. It is the troubled soul that seeks peace, seeks confidence, seeks shelter from the waves of chaos that come when answering our calls for help.
Sometimes people try and quiet the soul in ways that do more harm than good and cause even more trouble for the soul. As a Chaplain, it my privilege to come alongside these exceptional people and help them protect the part of them that lasts for eternity.
Often, I simply help them do what they already know they need to do. Our officers are some of the most thoughtful and bright people you will ever meet. Sometimes I am honored to help hold them up till they can recover from the exhaustion of carrying the sorrows of others. Sometimes, I am privileged to wade into the deep waters of some of the most difficult questions only an officer can throw my way. Sometimes, we just have fun.
The reality is I have to earn the right to get close enough to help heal the soul, it takes time and effort. It doesn’t happen over night. But when that trust is earned, there is nothing more important in the world than protecting the soul of the men and women who protect us.