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Why first responders cannot repond to hate with hate

There are people who are angry and people who hate us; understanding the difference is extremely important

By Sean Eddy

On September 30, 1956, a bomb went off on the front porch of Martin Luther King Jr.'s house.

Segregation supporters had bombed him in retaliation for the success of the Montgomery bus boycott. At the time, members of the black community were being beaten, arrested and even killed for standing up for what’s right. It was one of the ugliest times in our nation’s history.

When that bomb went off, the community reached a tipping point. Fighting and rioting started to erupt and the chief of police — who had quite vocally opposed MLK — grabbed the very man he stood against and asked him to do something.

King stood up and shouted for his fellow man to stop. He said this wasn’t the answer. He said you can’t conquer hate with hate, only love. This was coming from a man who had just survived an assassination attempt.

He could have easily rallied the troops and turned that town into fiery inferno. Why didn’t he? After the horrible things that were done to the black community, he would have had a legitimate reason to stand and fight, right? He chose to stay peaceful, because he knew fighting fire with fire only builds the fire. He had the wisdom to know that the only way to fight fire is with water.

Today, we are faced with tension and division that we as a nation haven’t seen in a long time. As first responders, we naturally want to back our brothers and sisters in law enforcement, and we absolutely should. However, in doing so, we need to remember the lessons we learned from Martin Luther King Jr.

There are people in this world who seek to divide and conquer, and we have to aggressively resist, and I do not mean in terms of violence or force. I’m talking about loving our fellow man unconditionally. That includes the people who oppose our beliefs and even people who actively protest against the very people we love and support. We have to remember that everyone has a right to an opinion and they have a right to voice it, whether we agree or not.

We can’t treat our patients, citizens, suspects, etc. any different than we did before. When we respond to hate with hate, it only fuels the fire. We have to be careful not to allow the acts of a few to affect our views of an entire group of people. There are people who are angry, and people who hate us. Understanding the difference is extremely important.

When we continue to fight with each other, it becomes too easy for the people who hate and wish us harm to blend in. And when I say “us” I mean society, not just law enforcement, gays, blacks, Muslims, etc. When we realize that we are all in this together and refuse to engage in the constant fighting, they will be forced to show themselves. Then and only then will we know who our true enemy is.

I ask that my fellow first responders join me in refusing to participate in the spread of negativity. Stop posting negative or accusatory memes. Stay away from negative or hateful comments on Facebook threads, no matter how angry or hurt you may be.

We HAVE to continue to show the world that we are a peaceful group that loves our fellow man. We have to be so peaceful and positive that it compels our peers to do the same. So much so that it makes people uncomfortable to be negative around us. This is the only way to stop the spread of hate. Let’s be the change that our society needs.

Uniform Stories features a variety of contributors. These sources are experts and educators within their profession. Uniform Stories covers an array of subjects like field stories, entertaining anecdotes, and expert opinions.
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