“Problem? What problem? Oh, that…”
The public’s perception and criticism of law enforcement is nothing new. It was an ongoing theme of discussion long before I was hired as a police officer and continued throughout my 30-year career. I recall my Uncle Bob talking about it when I was a kid. He had been with the Los Angeles Police Department since he was discharged from the military right after WWII. He often lamented the use of the word “PIG,” as it was so often used to refer to police officers during the turbulent 1960’s and early 1970’s. That was a big deal back then. Uncle Bob finally retired from LAPD the same year I began a law enforcement career…1977. And now, seven years after my own retirement the news media tells us that the basic faith of the public in law enforcement has been shaken…again. And there appears to be some truth to it, based on conversations I have with people who ask me about it all the time.
Of course, the “perception” that there is a newer, more intense problem could be called into question. Throughout my police career, I often heard people say “perception is reality” when trying to excuse the fickle nature of criticism that was based on purely subjective criteria. And then I discovered that saying was actually a twist on an old Buddhist tenet that read, “Perception is a fool’s reality.” It meant that we all form perspectives based on our own experiences that are subject to error, even when objectivity is the goal. In truth, things aren’t always what they seem. So is there such a thing as “absolute objective reality?” While the tendency of our modern popular culture is to say “no,” God seems to say otherwise…doesn’t he?
I remember a discussion about that subject during a training course on leadership. A class facilitator insisted that life was only shades of gray and there was no such thing as an “absolute objective truth.” We cordially debated the subject and at one point the facilitator demonstrated she was quite committed to her position. I asked her, “I don’t know, but have you really thought objectively about it?” She said she had. I asked her, “After careful contemplation, are you absolutely certain of your opinion?” She said she was. I then asked, “Well then, haven’t you just defined an absolute objective truth…at least from your perspective?” We changed the subject and moved on with the class.
Philosophy aside, although they may be magnified by false perceptions or sensationalized news accounts, we can’t dismiss the current controversies whirling around today’s law enforcement any more than we can ignore the video recordings of what appears to be blatant misconduct on the part of some police officers across the nation lately. Neither can we ignore the recent spat of protests…the media won’t let us. We need to keep in mind that much of the angst has come from “false narratives” (a new media and political catch phrase) that certain activists have exploited and that video recordings can be deceiving. We all know from our own home videos that viewing a scene through the eye of a small lens can be as limiting as viewing the world through a straw. However, there are things we have seen on TV that have made my peers in law enforcement and me wonder what the devil is going on. And it’s to the extent that people who traditionally were “pro-cop” are having doubts. So, it indeed appears that the public at large is having a crisis of faith with their local constabularies. Since they provide services we depend upon for our security and quality of life in this country, we better look at it seriously.
First, is faith in law enforcement necessary? Perhaps we should remind ourselves what “faith” truly is. Faith is “a strong belief or trust in someone or something,” according to Merriam-Webster. It is a “confident or unquestioning belief in the truth, value, or trustworthiness of a person, idea, or thing,” according to The Free Dictionary. Considering this is the one branch of government “by the people and for the people” that has the most direct contact with the public on a daily basis, carries the responsibility of maintaining public safety, and is empowered to use force (even deadly force) when necessary, I’d say faith in the institution is imperative. Mere respect or fear is not enough…not near so.
Next, how is faith established in the first place? I think we can all agree it is a valuable aspect of any healthy relationship. Unfortunately, it is not always present and a relationship cannot prosper, move forward, or weather the trials and tribulations of life in its absence. Faith is a product of and dependent upon hope that a bond between the parties will be mutually beneficial. Faith and hope have been interlinked for centuries, especially in scripture:
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God.
1 Peter 1:21
This is no lightweight concept! It’s not a word to be thrown around casually. “Faith” is such an important word that we substitute it for the nature of our relationship with all things Divine: the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit! Like anything in a relationship, “it takes two to make it and one to break it.” So we must ask ourselves if we are “faith-able.” And, likewise, is the other party “faith-worthy?” The only way we are willing to put faith in someone is to establish clear expectations and receive some assurance that they will follow through on their end of the bargain. God has established those things through His covenants. Law enforcement in the United States establishes that through the rule of law, most importantly the US Constitution. If the rule of law is abandoned, faith is broken and the relationship suffers.
The American public looks to its police departments and says, “We’re going to bequeath to you all this responsibility with commensurate authority, but with the clear understanding that both will be exercised under the rule of law.” And the police officer says, “I will accept that heavy load with all its potential hazard, but with the understanding that when things get tough…as they’re sure to be at times…you will give me your support.”
“Faith without trust? Unlikely…”
Okay, so once faith is founded and the ground rules are clear, how do we maintain that which both parties worked so hard to establish? Put most simply, isn’t the continuation of faith dependent on mutual trust and loyalty to one another? I believe so, but we also have to be careful not to let the lines we originally agreed upon begin to blur. That can happen when we complicate the situation with additional caveats and unrealistic expectations.
In scripture, we see that God maintains His fidelity by never wavering from His original intent. Nor does He make promises He doesn’t keep or otherwise lead us into a false sense of security by sugarcoating the realities of creation.
“Sovereign Lord, you are God! Your covenant is trustworthy, and you have promised these good things to your servant.” (2 Samuel 7:28)
“Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures through all generations. The Lord is trustworthy in all he promises and faithful in all he does.” (Psalm 145:13)
“Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me.” (Matthew 24:9)
“Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also.” (John 15:20)
It then becomes a matter of whether we are trustworthy and loyal. Well, are we? Have we ever been? As a nation established by God, those delivered from Egypt proved to be anything but loyal and paid the price over and over again:
“Then the Lord said to Moses, “Go down, because your people, whom you brought up out of Egypt, have become corrupt. They have been quick to turn away from what I commanded them and have made themselves an idol cast in the shape of a calf. They have bowed down to it and sacrificed to it and have said, ‘These are your gods, Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.’… “I have seen these people,” the Lord said to Moses, “and they are a stiff-necked people. Now leave me alone so that my anger may burn against them and that I may destroy them. Then I will make you into a great nation.” (Exodus 32:7-10)
Despite our failures, God continued to provide for us, up to and including sacrificing His Son by a tortured death on a cross for our salvation:
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)
With scripture in mind, let us look at the current situation and ask, “Is there room for reconciliation between disgruntled citizens and embattled police officers?” A lot depends on their willingness to fix the problem. Although neither party can claim divinity, perhaps there are Biblical concepts we can apply if we keep in mind the premise that faith depends on sticking to the original agreement. One way to do that is by not blurring those boundaries.
On the side of law enforcement, a sure way to throw a monkey wrench into the works is by nurturing false expectations by allowing our collective mouths to write checks that can’t be realistically cashed. This often happens when we get into the habit of responding to every request or inquiry with an overinflated “yes sir, can-do” attitude. Sure, we want our public servants to be pliable, enthusiastic and eager to cooperate. But, when politics enters the equation to the extent that police chiefs and sheriffs are afraid to deliver a reality check and vie to become everybody’s best friend to ensure their job security, we get into trouble. I vividly recall after the tragedies of 9/11, certain “big-time-somebodies” on the west coast proclaiming, “It can’t happen here,” as if those under their command were somehow superior to those on the east coast and could be counted on to keep us all safe. Seriously? I know they were trying to calm a near hysterical populace, but that was blatantly outrageous and a gross insult to those who had sacrificed their lives behind the badge. Lucky for them they were never called on it. But, it serves as an extreme example of what goes on routinely when politicians and the media turn to chiefs and sheriffs and ask, “Well, what about it?” Honesty can be risky for these people. I watched Chief Ron Lowenberg, retired chief from the Huntington Beach Police Department in California, take such a risk when discussing his agencies shrinking budget with the City Council by saying, “If you keep asking us to do more with less, eventually we’ll be doing everything with nothing.” It was true and a valid warning, but it didn’t score him any political points with politicians that were looking to strip his budget.
The difficulty blossoms when unchecked exuberance breeds unrealistic expectations that are eventually put to the test and fail. The disappointment on the part of the public is huge and often results in justifiable anger. Worse, the credibility of the policing agency is damaged, making it all the more difficult to effectively deal with whatever problems continue to exist after the breakdown. Ultimately, “honesty is the best policy” if law enforcement is to do its part to maintain faith with the public. After all, God didn’t promise us a rose garden. What makes politicians, in or out of uniform, think they can get away with it?
So, what liability exists on the public’s side of this equation? As much as it is the responsibility of police administrators to stay attached to reality, so it is the public’s responsibility to embrace that same reality. Is it appropriate to make demands of law enforcement? Of course! But, don’t they have to be sensible and objectively reasonable? What kind of impact does a sense of entitlement to oversensitivity have on a relationship? What are the consequences of trying to appease such tendencies? These are not new challenges in government. Pontius Pilate had a hell of a time with a mob:
“What shall I do, then, with Jesus who is called the Messiah?” Pilate asked. They all answered, “Crucify him!” “Why? What crime has he committed?” asked Pilate. But they shouted all the louder, “Crucify him!” When Pilate saw that he was getting nowhere, but that instead an uproar was starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd. “I am innocent of this man’s blood,” he said. “It is your responsibility!” All the people answered, “His blood is on us and on our children!” (Matthew 27:22-25)
What calamity we can bring on ourselves when we get lost in the madness of groupthink and make unreasonable demands on our government officials? Well, ask any cop trying to do his job in the present environment. Is it any wonder, given the situational ethics of the politics of his age, that Pilate asked Jesus, “What is truth?” (John 18:38)
We can yell and scream. We can cave to our emotional lusts. We can wrap ourselves in a blanket of self-righteous indignation and outrage over wrongs, real or imagined. But, where does it get us and what does it do to faith? Does it strengthen it? Even if the other party capitulates to such shenanigans, what is the resulting state of the relationship? The problems not only still exist, but are compounded. Now, we need to wade through additional layers of falsehoods, rectify additional inaccuracies, and take larger steps back towards reality before the situation improves and we can reestablish a healthy status quo. Oh, what a mess!
“Betrayal is toxic…”
So, it happens. Faith breaks down in all kinds of relationships and the one between the public and law enforcement is no exception. Without going down the path that so many tackling this subject have trotted by trying to debunk every myth and tangling ourselves in a series of contests to see who is the most aggrieved, what do we do about the apparent current situation? What steps do we take to restore what faith has been lost?
Probably the biggest hurdle, at least initially, is getting over the feeling of betrayal…on both sides. And, let’s not try to do so by minimizing its impact. The public, particularly certain segments who feel they have been long oppressed by police agencies, point to the recent videos of suspected, if not blatant, misconduct on the part of a very few officers and say, “See! There’s proof! The lying bastards can’t be trusted!” And, it’s true of some who have been caught red-handed, no doubt. The fact is that police chiefs and sheriffs pin badges on the chests of human beings and we all know they are not perfect. And, it’s getting tougher. Between being raised in a popular culture of questionable ethics, that even denies the existence of sin, and the rather dubious nature of police work, especially under current circumstances, it’s hard for law enforcement to find highly qualified people amongst younger generations to seriously consider as candidates. The prerequisites have always been demanding, but in order to attract and retain quality personnel who are resilient enough to deal with today’s challenges for years to come, it’s tempting to set the bar at a super human level. Not a realistic endeavor. So, there will always be those who fall through the cracks of the vetting process and those who are soured because of exposure to the worst society has to offer. When their misdeeds are publicized, it gives some the impression they have license to “take the fight to the man.” Maybe even gun him down in the streets.
On the other side, we have officers and deputies who feel betrayed by a populace that has never understood, let alone respected, what they really do or the fact that the majority of them do it exceedingly well under near impossible circumstances. And, that’s not an overstatement, either. We don’t have time or space here to categorize all the challenges of police work today…and perhaps we don’t need to. It’s common knowledge that it’s a tough job. Even the most vehement critics acknowledge that. Never before have the frontline troops in blue, tan or green been slammed with such unmerciful demands, expectations, liabilities, condemnations and retaliations as they are today…period. They sense little, if any, sincere political support beyond the lip service paid to them by candidates embracing “law and order” platforms as they eye the next election cycle. They face a constant barrage from a news media that has always stood ready to pounce, but now largely abandons any objective moderation for the sake of “grabbing the scoop” and selling airtime to companies advertising the latest and greatest gadgets. And now, even mom and pop are questioning their integrity.
Admittedly, I have painted a pretty bleak picture that embraces the radical ends of the spectrum for both sides. There are those who criticize cops who would never ambush one in a hail of gunfire. There are honest officers who shun paranoia and don’t believe the world is out to get them. But, these extremes are creeping towards the center and becoming more common place in the minds of people on both sides of this issue and must be acknowledged and addressed if diminished faith is to be restored.
“Is there a way out of here?”
So, what to do…what to do? Again, let’s turn to scripture to see what the Lord suggests. Maybe we don’t need to reinvent the wheel if we can find a solution that has existed throughout the ages. One possible approach that has shown promise in the past is in the Christian principle of forgiveness:
“If your brother or sister sins against you, rebuke them; and if they repent, forgive them. Even if they sin against you seven times in a day and seven times come back to you saying ‘I repent,’ you must forgive them.” (Luke 17:3-4)
“Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” “No one, sir,” she said. “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.” (John 8:10-11)
Although “forgiveness” is often used to encapsulate the entire process, it is actually only one part of a progression of several steps that must be taken to achieve full success. By “success” I mean a final state of circumstances in which all involved parties are satisfied and at peace. If we begin and end with mere “forgiveness,” the one doing the forgiving benefits by perhaps unloading a burden of bitterness and feeling satisfied that they have done the ethical thing that puts them on a moral “high road.” But, it leaves some loose ends that can entangle the future and jeopardize the final outcome. So, bear with me. It took us a while to get into this mess and no one wants to be here again.
I note five essential requisites for true success to be achieved: properly identifying the wrong done (confession), an apology (contrition), forgiveness (absolution), resolution (repentance), and reunification (reconciliation). Some may be tempted to compress a couple of these steps together to avoid unnecessarily complicating the matter, but I would urge us not to be impatient and indulge each one to its fullest if we are to sincerely seek a lasting and resilient state of harmony…be that with the Lord, with each other or between the public and law enforcement.
The first step is “confession,” or properly identifying and acknowledging the wrong done. This is essential because everyone knows you can’t fix a problem unless and until you know what the problem is. It may also be the hardest, because it’s a prickly step that makes us feel uncomfortable. It’s a lot easier to be the accuser than the accused in this situation, so we naturally vie for the role of the first and are reluctant to accept the second. Jesus pointed it out during His lesson on hypocrisy when He declared, “…first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” (Matthew 7:5). So, we must lean back, take a breath, adopt some humility, examine ourselves and identify our own liabilities. Humility is tough. It’s the only virtue that overrides the devil’s favorite sin, pride. The Beast loves pride, because it stirs conflict that perpetuates the chaos. So, it must be overcome. Humility is also a mandatory element of objectivity, and objectivity is necessary to accurately define the problem. It is rare that only one side is at fault and when liability is shared, both sides must accept responsibility. And, so it is in the breakdown of faith between the public and law enforcement officers.
We immediately see this is more difficult than we first thought. As an accuser, it is easier to point the finger at those police officers that break the rules and declare the whole institution to be corrupt. No doubt “one bad apple can spoil the whole barrel,” but that doesn’t take into account the thousands of honest, hardworking, dependable cops who bust their rear-ends and sacrifice daily for the public’s wellbeing. On the other side, it’s easier for officers to seethe under the pressure and blame everyone for their plight without recognizing those who sincerely support them and depend on them for at least maintaining their quality of life, if not for their actual survival. As law enforcement must admit the misconduct amongst their ranks, the public must accept the reality that most of those who are subject to arrest bring the action upon themselves. Each incident is unique and often more complex than what appears at first glance. That is why it is so important to shun the bombastic elements of society that rush to judgment to satisfy personal agendas and wait out a properly conducted investigation before pronouncing guilt or innocence on the part of anyone involved. The legal concept of “innocent before proven guilty” has merit because of this very practical necessity.
If society can get the first stage done (and admittedly it’s a huge challenge), the second step involves an apology or “contrition.” This isn’t a mere shrug followed by, “Gee, we’re sorry.” The contrition must be as profound as the error confessed and must be sincere. Police chiefs and sheriffs facing serious violations of law by their personnel resulting from properly investigated incidents must acknowledge the failures and sincerely offer apologies to those wronged, as well as the public for the trust that was jeopardized. They may need to facilitate prompt compensation to those individuals who suffered as a result of the misconduct and go before the lights and cameras to address the citizens of their communities…and the rest of the nation, for that matter. On the flipside, when the public/news media/political activists are in error, they must also offer public apologies, either by the individuals personally responsible for the mistakes or by their appointed representatives. Historically, this has not come easy. Executives of news agencies rarely do so. Political activists are even less inclined. Officers who have had their reputations disparaged normally hear nothing more than “owls and crickets” from those who foist false accusations and leave town before the dust settles. As one anti-government activist once told me in a moment of candor, “Yeah, I move around a lot…chasing one protest after another. It’s what I do and it’s hard to hit a moving target.” It’s tempting to stop right here and give up, isn’t it?
As much as there is to say about proper apologies, let’s move on to forgiveness or what those in the church call “absolution.” Again, this is a tough one. It goes against our base nature. There are those who love to hold a grudge and cling to their victimization like a security blanket. I’ve learned over the years that identifying one’s self as a victim can be intoxicating. It gives people a feeling of special status…an aggrieved status, if you will. Often, it is used as a shield against criticism. It’s still considered unseemly to “kick a man (or group) when he’s (they’re) down.” Look at those who relish membership in an oppressed class, even if their actual lineage doesn’t qualify them. Coming from Irish stock, I can tell you there’s a lot of it in my family history…although it’s hard for me to get too excited, since there’s equal parts British blood running through my veins. But, perhaps I digress…
Jesus touted forgiveness as a necessary part of discipleship. He even included it in what’s come to be known as “The Lord’s Prayer” (Matthew 6:9-13). It became centered in His ministry and integral to the salvation He brought into the world. Volumes upon volumes have been written about this by those much more qualified to discuss theology than I am, so I won’t “beat a dead horse” here. But, the value forgiveness has to the wellbeing of the individual, as well as the process of conflict resolution and the resulting harmony among people cannot be over stressed.
“Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.” (Luke 6:37)
“Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice! Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you.” (2 Corinthians 13:11)
So, here the public is asked to forgive (if not forget) the trespasses of the few for the sake of the many who continue to toil for their benefit. And those in law enforcement are asked to let go of their bitterness over being lumped into the same heap with a few of their brethren who have gone astray, or having been demonized as a group by outright fabrications and bogus accusations. But, it is unrealistic to expect this to happen on either side unless there are some very clear conditions attached as to where we all go from here. That leads us to the next step of resolution or “repentance.”
Resolution occurs when involved parties agree to recommit to parameters reestablished in the relationship. Repentance is the promise of the individual to change their ways from the mistakes of the past and adhere to their renewed vows of fidelity. Too often, Christians forget or deemphasize this important aspect of salvation. As indicated before, Jesus cautioned us to reorder our lives and sin no more, for our sakes and that of others. Repentance not only benefits the offender, but the whole community.
“In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” (Luke 15:10)
Realistically, both know that there will be difficulties and challenges. Both know that the other is imperfect and the potential for error still exists. But, if the problem has been clearly identified, responsibility has been accepted, sincerity has been expressed though apologies and the appropriate amount of forgiveness has been exercised so that we “bury the hatchet” and we’re not constantly rehashing old grievances, then there is room for hope that the future will be better for all involved. And, upon realizing that hope has returned, so does the potential for faith to be resurrected.
If we manage to summit that behemoth of a mountain, the only thing left is to follow through with reunification and “reconciliation,” without hesitation. The strength of a community, or a nation, is magnified when people are united under a common cause for mutual benefit. This has been well established throughout history and was emphasized by St. Paul as the early Christian church struggled to survive:
“I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought.” (1 Corinthians 1:10)
“Oh, well, if that’s all…”
Of course, this whole issue is made all the more complicated, because we are talking about what has been defined as a national problem with multiple incidents, in multiple communities, in multiple states. From a practical standpoint, this kind of conflict resolution will have to be applied to individual hot spots when the alarm sounds. It also necessitates the actuation of moderates who traditionally sit in the middle as passive spectators mesmerized by those at the radical extremes who garner the majority of the attention. They will need to wake up to the personal vested interests they have in the matter and get involved to the point of wrestling control of the conversation away from those at the far ends of the spectrum. By doing so, we can hope to adopt a broad, overarching philosophy that addresses the common characteristics of these challenges faced by communities plagued with a crisis in faith.
Activism by moderates is all the more mandatory under the current circumstances, because radicals are claiming they are legitimized by the passivity of those in the middle. They say extreme action is needed to get things done. Those marching in the streets chanting hateful mantras calling for the deaths of police officers justify such behavior as promoting reformation. They claim to be agents of change. If we acquiesce to that, then the only way to gain equilibrium for a permanent solution is to foster the resurgence of fascism in America. The radical argument fails by not anticipating the equal and opposite reaction to their crusade. I highly doubt those who support the “Black Lives Matter” movement mean to revitalize the “American Nazi Party” or the “Ku Klux Klan,” but that is the practical consequence of their train of thought. Hardly a prescription for healthy diplomacy.
We should not be fooled. None of this is easy and there could be more at stake than what first meets the eye. Keeping the peace can be as difficult as winning it. It is fragile, especially right after a ceasefire. There may still be some lingering doubt. The volatility of betrayal is not easily quenched. Parties may have gathered enough strength to forgive, but memories linger on and the heat of the crisis will not be completely forgotten. If there is a reoccurrence of the same misconduct, on either side, after everyone has gone through this rigorous process, the damage could be fatal with a permanent loss of faith. The potential backlash could lead us to a state that is worse than when we started. Chiefs and sheriffs would likely be forced to resign or otherwise be removed from office. Those commanders left standing will be reluctant to engage their personnel assertively, much less aggressively. Elected officials will need to be replaced. Upheavals could be great and unscrupled opportunists could fill voids in leadership. We have seen what happens when revolutionaries supplant legitimate statesmen. At times in history, the results have been catastrophic. The street cops will take their cues from command and retreat, becoming passive if not paralyzed. When that happens, the community is thrown into chaos and turmoil. If they swing the other way and become militant, corruption takes hold. If civil unrest is not checked, mob rule becomes dominant. When local authorities lose control, the state or federal government must step in, often with militarized force. These things have happened before in our history. Thankfully, although painful, they have been temporary. We see some of it occurring now in limited form. But, if it becomes long lasting or widespread, the very foundations of our form of government and the underpinnings of a civilized society can be jeopardized.
That realization should be paramount in everyone’s mind and serve as motivation for the majority to not only faithfully support the reconciliation, but also immediately and without mercy condemn and ostracize the few on either side that may be tempted to betray the many. And you can be assured they are there. Evil lurks deep in human hearts and runs rampant all too often, especially in communities where lawlessness is commonplace and civic leaders have shaken hands with the criminal element that dominates their neighborhoods. The bloodthirsty have always been with us and always will be.
Of course, conflicts and controversies will continue to pop up, even under the best of circumstances. The nature of police work guarantees it. No matter how justified it is, no one likes getting a ticket or going to jail. Abraham Lincoln wasn’t kidding when he quoted the poet John Lydgate: “You can please some of the people all of the time, you can please all of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time.” But, if we can establish equilibrium in our culture despite the diversity, insist on rational reasoning in our national discourse and neutralize the influence of the radical ends of the social and political spectrums…perhaps we can weather the storms that are sure to come.
The pessimist scoffs and says, “Yeah, right.” And, perhaps with good cause. If this were easy, there would have been peace in the region of the Lord’s hometown years ago. But in His day, when things got tough and many of Christ’s disciples walked away from Him, Jesus asked the Twelve who were left if they were ready to leave Him, too. St. Peter answered and said, “Lord, to whom shall we go?” (John 6:68). Perhaps, in the same spirit, we should ask, “What else shall we do?” Truly, it would appear the good options are few and fading. Perhaps we should grab what we can and ask God to do the heavy lifting?