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Sensible Anarchy

Wisdom. Wisdom is a fading commodity. Very few people out there are genuinely wise. Knowledgeable? Sure. Possessing a level of expertise? Certainly. Bursting with semi-informed opinion? Absolutely (and they are willing to share it whether you want it or not—and don’t think for a minute that I don’t see myself in that particular mirror.) But ‘wise’ is a harder label to earn. I am definitely not wise. I’m far too lazy for wise. Wisdom takes a commitment and focus most of us will just never possess.

girl splashing in the seaBut NOT being wise hasn’t left me wandering the streets searching for guidance. Nope, my lack of wisdom has forced me to rely on being just plain sensible.

Sensible. I can get behind sensible. Sensible shoes. Sensible diets. Sensible government. Sensible sensibilities.

It’s actually liberating to let go and just trust your sensible instincts. It’s not like you’re going in blind. Your instincts are informed by your lifetime of experiences. You already know not to touch the hot stove. You already know actions have consequences. You already know life is more resilient than rigid.

Sensible is a perfectly good substitute for wise.

Of course that doesn’t stop us from seeking the perceived wisdom of others. In any given Google search or social media browsing session one can find validation, advice, and handy numbered how-to lists that help us navigate our days: Ten Easy Steps to perfect children, perfect relationships, perfect waistlines, perfect sentence structure, and perfectly perfect lives. Yes, all the wisdom in the world is at our fingertips.

Do we really believe wisdom and sage advice is going to come with a pop-up ad and a subscribe button?

Of course not, but relying on the wisdom of others instead of our own instincts feels safe. It feels less risky. Captain Kirk need not have bothered. We’re not interested in going where no man has gone before. We’d rather follow a path already forged with all the obstacles marked with big red flags.

The problem with all this collective wisdom and our obsession with it, is it forgets that we are living, breathing, evolving lifeforms. What is a wise path for one may be folly for another. All those ten point plans to happiness merely reflect the wisdom of the writer. Their rules worked for them–kept them safe, perhaps–but they are dispensable when they don’t fit with our own individual sensibilities. Let it go. Stop searching for your life.

What we really need is a wee bit of sensible anarchy. We need a little self-awareness and a whole lot of dismissal of the fear of doing something “wrong”. Sensible anarchy: the 21st version of wisdom.

Go forth and do whatever the hell feels right. Trust your sensible side.

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We can do better

THIS was a badge of honor!

THIS was a badge of honor!

I am the daughter and granddaughter of police officers. I was raised to believe that the police had our best interests in mind. The police were the good guys.

And mostly they are.

Police officers are the first to put themselves between the people and danger. For that they should be honored and rewarded.

But they are not above the law. They do not get to have their behaviors dismissed because they carry a badge and a gun.

That badge is not a get out of jail free card.

My father was a southern cop during the Civil Rights movement. He saw sides of people that some of us will never see. He watched people stand up for what they believed was right. He saw men and women cross lines that they knew would lead them (and him) into dangerous circumstances. He believed in equality. He believed in the law. He believed that everyone deserved fair access to the system he served.

I think he would be appalled by what this country is experiencing today as we watch one police officer after another get absolved for their sins, for breaking the laws they vowed to uphold, without so much as a slap on the wrist.

My father always told me a police officer uses force only as a last resort. You treat people like human beings first. You give them a chance, a pause, a moment to think about their choices. You hope for the best. You never draw your gun unless there is genuine danger. You never pull the trigger unless you are in a kill-or-be-killed situation.

My father told me that taking a life should bring you pain. It should hurt you to do it. You should do all you can to do something else. The badge is not a license to kill. It is a license to protect.

My father was a cop. He was in actual dangerous situations with tangible violence, vicious criminals, and people with a history of terrorist aggression and access to dangerous weapons.

Real crime. Real danger.

A man selling illegal cigarettes on a New York City sidewalk or a misguided juvenile delinquent with time to change his ways or a boy playing with a toy gun in a park deserve a better end than the ones they received at the hands of police officers with too much power and not enough compassion.

We should expect better. We can do better.

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