Saturday, October 31, 2015

Defiant


When I was a little girl, I was raised to be obedient... By my grandmothers.

I was taught to say yes ma'am, no ma'am or yes sir, no sir in the face of authority. Question nothing and accept that authority knows what's best.

They hadn't been prepared for the time I spent with my mother.

When I watched the Sandra Brown Arrest video, I have to admit, with all my heart, that I was stunned.

Every word Sandra Brown spoke to Brian Encinia was testy, aggressive, argumentative, and belligerent.

I probably would have slapped her about 30 seconds into the conversation.

Sandra Brown was taught to trust no one. She was taught to fight everything... To question everything. She lived to challenge authority.

When Michael Brown was stopped in Ferguson for allegedly stealing a box of cigars, instead of calmly getting in the car, he defiantly ran.

When Eric Garner was confronted by the police for selling individual cigarettes, he held up his hands in surrender, but began to argue with the officers.

And then there is the student in South Carolina arguing with the teacher to the point that a school police officer was brought in and things got nasty.

Second grade was especially tough for me.

Mrs. Smith was the teacher from hell.

It was so bad that two kids started peeing their pants again. I started having bad dreams... It didn't help that we lived across the street from the school and I felt that she was watching my every move.

One of my grandmothers saw and noted the change in behavior and decided to investigate. She walked into the school one day (back then, it was possible), and she caught Mrs. Smith yelling and screaming at us. My grandmother went ballistic and told Mrs. Smith that she never wanted to catch Mrs. Smith even looking cross-eyed at me again.

Mrs. Smith never looked at me again. She never pointed at me when I raised my hand. She never let me answer a question. She put me in the back of the room and literally ignored my existence. Her pen made cut marks through my paper with boldly printed F's.

It took a lot of for me to recover from that woman and learn self respect. It took scores of As from other teachers to convince me that I had any brains in my head.

It's amazing what one teacher can do to a life.

Today, if a teacher pulled this on a class, it would be put on every social media site available. Lawsuits would be filed. And that teacher would be unemployed rapidly.

To defy or not to defy authority... That is the question.

I don't think that my mother ever had a problem with me questioning her authority. We both knew that she was tougher and meaner than me. And we both knew that she was smarter than I am, any day and twice on Sunday.   

My mother taught me to question everything... Including her.

It was never about disrespecting anyone. It was never about demands, name calling, arrogance, or defiance. It was about questioning everything.

"Yes, officer, here are my registration, driver's license, and insurance. By the way sir, may I see the radar?"

So I watch all of these videos with both sides being aggressive, and honestly, find fault with the triggers that the authority figures respond to, and the respect that is sadly lacking from the conversation.

I don't remember police officers in my high school. And this was at a time when bullies were praised for their aggression (because it would make a "man" out of ya) and LSD, pot, heroin, and plethora of other drugs floated around like driftwood at a boat crash.

I remember teachers lowering grades at behavior that was unacceptable. Wondering if one had the grades to get into college was a big deal, and disruptive behavior went on your score card.

It was the ultimate power of a teacher.

And then teachers started abusing it. The favorite students started getting the favorable As for behavior and the not so favorite would be forgotten or marked down. Athletes graduated from high school without ever learning to read.

And this is where the authority of the teacher began to diminish.

I actually watched my first episode of cops, yesterday... It had never appealed and I must say that I probably won't watch it again. But I saw the same defiant behaviors in this 30 minute show, as I have been seeing in the news.

When the suspects were told to put up their hands, they either ran, yelled and screamed, or stood rebelliously and pugnaciously confronting the police officers.

I know that a lot of distrust has been foisted on police officers, and I do understand that mistrust. From the sixties and their racial profiling (yes, I realize it still goes on today), to being part of the KKK, to abusive, rapists that call themselves police officers, to the shoot first and ask questions later cops.

There are bad cops out there. Anybody who says differently is a liar.

There are bad people out there in every race, creed, religion, occupation, gender, LGBTQ, judges, police officers, politicians, celebrities, there are even bad pastors/religious leaders (sorry if that's a shock to anyone, but it shouldn't be).

Give certain types of people a little bit of authority or power, and you are giving them a weapon from whence the beating will come. It's just a fact of life.

Some of my favorite people in history had very questionable natures.

President Abraham Lincoln, who emancipated slaves, and because he did, I adore him. But history shows another side to this man. He was ruthless about getting his way and winning.

The Emancipation Proclamation was not really about freeing the slaves, it was about a war of attrition and "he who has the most troops wins." And Abraham Lincoln knew that he didn't have the troops to send down South. He wanted people that knew the terrain of the South and he wanted sacrificial victims that he could easily count without remorse.

He rolled those dice and became a hero to the slaves.

Maybe that is a grim way of looking at the past, but it is also very true. Abraham Lincoln didn't expect too many slaves to survive the incursion.

The event at Selma taught us a lot of different things:

1.      The power of the media to capture evil, even when they are trying to hide the evil

2.      Bad things happen when good men do nothing.

3.      Evil can be fought without violence or fury.

Martin Luther King strongly discouraged anger and rebellion, and yet he won a victory welding a mighty thought: That all people are created equal. It wasn't his original thought, but it was an echo from wise men throughout history.

Gandhi and Chavez repeated this idea and refused to endorse violence. They even fasted when their own people rebelled against the thought that great deeds can be done without a gun or a fist.

While my mother taught me to question everything, she also taught me that there is a time to question authority.

When a police officer is making an arrest, 99.9% of the time (just a number off the top of my head), he/she is doing his/her job. When he/she writes a ticket, he/she pulled you over because you were driving too fast, or one of your tail lights wasn't working. Does it matter?

Arguing with them is not going to change the fact that you were driving too fast, or that your tail light wasn't working.

Asking them politely to show you the radar registration for your own visual is not an affront to their authority. It is information that validates or invalidates their reason for stopping you.

Your battle is never with them and your voice doesn't need to be heard then. That is what our court system is for. This is where your voice can be heard.

Twenty years ago, I was pulled over for going 40 MPH in a 30 MPH residential area. I handed my license, registration, and insurance documentation out the window as the police officer walked up to my car, before he even said anything.

I asked to see the radar and he showed it to me.

And then I went to court and fought it.

I calmly explained that both roads leading onto the street were 35 MPH. I also pointed out that there were no signs that marked that street as residential. There were several businesses and churches on that street. I also said that I would be quite happy to pay the fine for going 5 MPH over the speed limit.

The county attorney nodded at the judge and shrugged his shoulders. He accepted my offer, and let me go with a warning.

Several months later, speed limit signs were put up on that street... 35 MPH!!!!

Maybe that isn't the big CHANGE that everyone wants in their life. but I presented my argument in the place where it was meant to be, not belligerently in the face of the officer, but in court. And I changed things.

I encourage you to use your words! I challenge you to accept fate with passion, and withhold the anger.

Most of all, I defy you to use your defiance at the right place and time. To fight the good fight on the battle ground, and not sitting in your car with a person that is more than likely just there to do a job.   

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