Sunday, February 3, 2013

Oaths

The other day I was having a conversation with an attorney discussing what is wrong with society.  At one point of the contestation I was expressing displeasure with the fact that the district attorney picks and chooses chases to push forward.  I had just described the details of a horrible neglect case that resulted in an infant death.  I pointed out that the district attorney never charges these because they say, “The death of the child is punishment enough”.  The attorneys response was, “At a certain point don’t you think it’s a waste of tax payer’s money to go forward with a case?”   I have to admit I was stunned but my response was “Nope”.  Conversation was quickly changed by another party and I have to leave before we could debate the topic further.


Now you could argue politics in this matter and certainly the law school she went to could make one draw a conclusion as to the politics taught at that school but I am apolitical.  Partly because I have served in the military with both a republican and democrat Commander in Chief.  I have worked on Presidential protection details for both a democrat and republican President and I would have taken a bullet for either of them, and I didn’t vote for either.  Why because that is the role I chose.  I chose to take the oath of police officer to protect others and execute the laws of my jurisdiction.

Now I want to point out first and foremost that I harbor no animus towards the attorney.  She is way smarter than I am and a brilliant attorney by all accounts.  My problem is not with her at all and certainly not her specifically.  My problem is with the mindset we in society have fostered that at a certain point the consequences of our actions are redundant and not necessary.  My problem is the prosecutors deciding based on their belief system on what cases get prosecuted.  This conversation with this attorney merely triggered this response after festering inside me for a week.

Myself and all prosecutors have taken oaths, both to protect and defend the constitution and to carry out our jobs without malice and prejudice to the best of our abilities.  The wordings may be different but its clear the intent is more similar than not. 

I have taken several oaths in my life.  First the scout oath on my way up to Eagle Scout.  Next I took an oath in the Navy and the National Guard.  Both of those I effectively swore to defend the constitution and freedom with a means up to and including my life.   My oath as a police officer was similar except that I also pledge to uphold and enforce the laws of the state and to project the citizens within my jurisdiction (the entire state I am sworn in). 

If I was able to use the logic of wasting tax dollars to make decisions I would make very different decisions on the street.  I think back to many situations where I knew that saving the life of a person was going to cause more crime and cost taxpayers more money, but I still did everything in my power to save their lives.  Why?  Because I took an oath to do my job to the best of my ability!  I know there have been situations where I had my gun pointed at an armed suspect and was just about to serve them a dinner of hot lead biscuits when they dropped the weapon.  Wouldn’t it be better for taxpayers if I just dispatched criminals the very second I was legally able to rather than trying to peacefully resolve the situation?  Well, allowing me to deicide based on taxpayers needs who lives and who dies about as ridiculous as prosecutors deciding which cases are cost effective.  I am sorry but if society expects me to risk my life and potentially get killed doing their work, then I expect that my work not be in vein and exercise in futility.  

Why do I have to keep my oath to the letter by prosecutors get to dance around the requirements.  The simple answer is I don’t.  I chose to because my ethos is what drives me.  Every man (and woman) has an ethos that drives them to do what they do.  My ethos is a personification of the oaths I have taken.  I think Tecumseh said it best and this is the ethos that guides my life. 

So live your life that the fear of death can never enter your heart.
Trouble no one about their religion;
respect others in their view, and demand that they respect yours.
Love your life, perfect your life, beautify all things in your life.

Seek to make your life long and its purpose in the service of your people.
Prepare a noble death song for the day when you go over the great divide.
Always give a word or a sign of salute when meeting or passing a friend,
even a stranger, when in a lonely place.
Show respect to all people and grovel to none.

When you arise in the morning give thanks for the food and for the joy of living.
If you see no reason for giving thanks, the fault lies only in yourself.

Abuse no one and no thing, for abuse turns the wise ones to fools
and robs the spirit of its vision.

When it comes your time to die, be not like those whose hearts are filled
with the fear of death, so that when their time comes they weep
and pray for a little more time to live their lives over again in a different way.
Sing your death song and die like a hero going home.”

So yes both the prosecution and I, and all attorneys for that matter have taken the oath.  This is what guides me.  What guides you?  

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