Power and a Spiritual Perspective: An Officer and a Professor
Preface: I have this habit of sharing some really great perspectives on Facebook as a status update instead of writing a blog post that could reach more people. This habit changes now as I am dedicating myself to sharing my perspectives on life and consciousness more consistently through this space. My original Facebook post was much shorter, but I decided to add a bit more context to this post.
Six weeks ago, an Arizona State University (ASU) professor was stopped and subsequently physically manhandled while being arrested by an ASU campus police officer. What started as a questionable stop for jay walking, turned into a huge freaking mess complete with charges, dash cam videos and a lot of public opinion. What also fuels this situation is that the professor was a black women and the officer was male. Racially, he looks white, but I am unsure of his ethnicity and won’t wager a guess. Learn more about the confrontation here.
There are so many opinions being shared, but I find the difference of opinion between black women and men regarding the assault and arrest of Professor Ore to be telling and not surprising. It’s actually rather unfortunate for a variety of reasons that I will save for another post. What I do want to focus on, at the moment, is a material and spiritual perspective on power. This is a tricky situation and I don’t have enough page space to type out everything that plays into it but I am going to do my best to express myself.
Unfortunately, we live in a society where some cops like maiming and killing their subjects, especially when they are black or brown. From an earth plane perspective, the onus is on us to act responsible to the point of being docile and forgoing all of our basic rights. I call BS on that. I hold that the ASU professor (or any person for that matter) had a right to ask “why”. If the reports are accurate, and she was the only person stopped out of a group of unrelated people doing the same thing, then her stop was BS and the cop needs conflict resolution training, a shift in perspective and perhaps, a mental health check. Many people are blaming the professor, but what about the cop? When he saw his subject getting agitated, he had a moral responsibility (as I feel all cops have), to diffuse the situation if he was not looking for a fight. Why? Because when it comes to deputized law enforcement, the scale of power is tilted in their favor and they have a responsibility to use this power wisely.
I’ve long held that all law enforcement, especially community based law enforcement needs to take training in conflict resolution, transcendental mediation and basic principles in consciousness, communication and coaching so that they can calm their butts down and do their jobs consistently. There are way too many instances of police officers losing their cool in the height of non life threatening confrontations. “Power” has been bestowed upon law enforcement officials (LEOs) to “make sure that we are safe” for our own good, whereas civilians have no same power to lean on. When things go well and LEOs take their oath to “protect and serve” seriously and do so with honor great things happen. Most importantly society feels safe and protected and all is well.
The challenge is that LEOs are human beings who have their own shit that is internally and societal driven. I find that some people, who are attracted to becoming a LEO are seeking outside sources of validation and power. As in all professions, some of these folks have not dealt with childhood and adolescent dramas and traumas, do not know how to communicate effectively and in essence, hide their angst, bad behaviors and tempers behind the power bestowed by their profession (more on this later).
My human mind continues to be outraged by jacked up situations like this, but I am always reminded to look at any situation from a perspective of consciousness. As I shift, what comes up for me is that both the officer and the professor were operating and responding to their fear. This triggered a situation where the officer erroneously used physical force and the professor responded by protecting herself. Perhaps there was an opportunity on both sides to diffuse the situation, but that is for no one to say except the two people involved.
It’s easy to say that Professor Ore should have complied with the request, but when you are scared, and also sick and tired of having your presence questioned because of what you look like and what you might represent, you are going to have questions, namely “why are you stopping me?” From an energetic perspective, there is very little trust between black people and law enforcement and this has everything to do with the long, bloody history of violence against black people and other people of color by law enforcement officials in this country. Time will allow us to see how this situation works out, but my hope is that this incident will lead to opportunities of dialogue and create solutions around how we can heal the relationships between black people and the law enforcement community. Healing and transformation is messy, and Professor Ore’s arrest for essentially advocating and protecting herself is a hard reminder of this.
Personally, I have been protected by law enforcement. I have also been abused by all manner of law enforcement because of what I look like and what they believe that I represent. I’ve been in domestic situations where I have been targeted and mistreated and in international situations at customs where I have been profiled as a drug mule (more than once) when the person who was high but had less melanin walked right out to enjoy their day. Initially I was pissed and hurt whenever this happened, but I’ve wised up over the years. I’ve learned to not take things personally, hedge my bet, be strategic and ask for spiritual guidance and protection at all times.
I continue to ask, “I’m curious, what made you stop me? ” as it is my constitutional right to know why I am being stopped. However, as I lean on spirit and my life tools vs. my ego, I understand that I may be dealing with people who are looking for a reason to be aggressive, assert their power and may be mentally off. My bottom line is that you’re going to know that I know what you are doing, but you will not be able to conceive of a reason to arrest and/or assault me…. that is my hope anyway.
Open-ended questions and understanding energy are powerful tools for navigating this world and are just a few of the tools that I use to live and lead a purposeful life. The longer I live in this physical world rife with all of its issues, the more I have to lean on a spiritual approach to life. It’s not about having a reason to ignore the injustices (as a true spiritual practice does not ignore them- it deals with them head on), but a way for me to have some peace and sanity so that I can keep contributing to building a world where injustices will eventually have no home.