When it comes to policing in America, I have hope. It is hope, realistic hope, that keeps many of us who have served, retired, and now, keeps us “in the game.”
I was moved this week by a poem by Victoria Safford by that same name — Hope:
Our mission is to plant ourselves at the gates of Hope—
Not the prudent gates of Optimism,
Which are somewhat narrower.
Not the stalwart, boring gates of Common Sense;
Nor the strident gates of Self-Righteousness,
Which creak on shrill and angry hinges
(People cannot hear us there; they cannot pass through)
Nor the cheerful, flimsy garden gate of
“Everything is gonna’ be all right.”
But a different, sometimes lonely place,
The place of truth-telling,
About your own soul first of all and its condition.
The place of resistance and defiance,
The piece of ground from which you see the world
Both as it is and as it could be
As it will be;
The place from which you glimpse not only struggle,
But the joy of the struggle.
And we stand there, beckoning and calling,
Telling people what we are seeing
Asking people what they see.
In this poem, Stafford calls us to be truth-tellers; that often truth-telling is an act of resistance and defiance. This is a struggle that is often lonely as we, who work to improve the lot of those with whom we once served, tell them what we see, asking them what they see.