Holding the Line

A citizen, then, who stands alongside one whose faculties may be diminished, or who, simply, is under duress by persons in some place of authority with the power to negatively impact that person’s standard of living, the protector is most honorable.

Perhaps few people will be required across their life time to take a stand for their principles on behalf of others. It is a noble thing to be true to one’s self and to maintain those principles one has decided for themselves, “this is a truth I will not disavow, for it is a belief, a practice, or a rule for my own self-care, which I know is best for me to follow for my personal well-being.” A person who struggles with alcoholism may maintain such a personal practice, knowing that to violate this one specific rule, such as the frequenting of a certain tavern, will lead eventually to his own self’s relenting to drinking which will lead to negative consequences.

Wise individuals will set and adhere to such personal lines of discipline. Such is not uncommon and often, these wise folks will enlist the aid of friends or confidants to provide help in times of temptation. For these people, the issue is personal, the negative consequences are personal as well. The line that they have drawn is a personal one and, other than those who will provide assistance, everything about the possible challenge to it will come to the individual as a private matter. The individual is motivated to keep his or her standard out of a sense of care for one’s self.

Fewer are the people who are in situations where they have either a moral or legal obligation to maintain a specific principle or uphold a value on behalf of someone else, not a family member. Certain professions have a code of ethics that demands certain discretions. Others have legal mandates requiring such privilege. An attorney may hold to an attorney-client privilege that forbids the attorney from disclosing specific types of information, except under very narrow circumstances. A physician holds a moral obligation to privileged communication which is enforced in the U.S. by very specific federal legislation, which places the physician in the position of legal liability if they or a member of their staff discloses medical information considered privileged. Clergy also hold to a strict level of confidentiality between the clergy and a counselee and on a higher moral line is the revered sanctity of the confessional and the priest and petitioner. In each of these, some higher level is enforcing the maintenance of the confidence. Avoiding legal liability or a perceived moral or spiritual liability is often the primary motivator for adhering to the standard.

What is most unusual currently in the 21st Century is a person who, by the profession in which they are employed has access to another’s personal information and chooses. because of their respect for the privacy rights of their client, their own personal moral or spiritual convictions, to protect the privacy of another person, whether client or other similar relationship, at the risk of their job, their career standing and their own personal well-being.

When such a person takes a stand to protect another individual’s privacy and there is no information on a criminal act or information that could harm someone if not released, our American society is the better. Our founding fathers prized personal freedom and the protection of privacy higher than any other. A citizen, then, who stands alongside one whose faculties may be diminished, or who, simply, is under duress by persons in some place of authority with the power to negatively impact that person’s standard of living, the protector is most honorable. When those unconscionable persons put an individual in a situation where they need a protector, the guardian should be given every assistance possible by others within our society who have the potential to be a positive help. When the protector-guardian is threatened with a loss of job or other punitive action and the protector remains resolute in their protection of their charge’s privacy, every person with any voice should raise a clarion call to aid the protector in their role.

When the guardian’s charge, who requires the protection of their privacy is a veteran of the United States’ armed forces, the guardian is, without hyperbole, a hero. A veteran, who, because of their own service to protect the rights of others, now faces some diminished capacity and becomes a victim of duress by a bureaucratic organization and that organization then terminates the job of the guardian and verbally assaults the protector of the veteran’s rights – that organization should feel the full weight of the federal government charged to protect the inalienable rights of its citizens. A full and formal investigation of the company is in order. May the protector of this veteran experience the gratitude and respect of our nation at the highest levels.

May God richly bless the guardian and all who walk in their shoes.

MAY, A Month for Memories

MayMay is a month for memories,  for remembering. It is the month we, here in the United States, remember mothers for their magnificent role in all our lives. Mostly good, some with sadder memories, still the women who are our mothers and grandmothers impacted our lives in ways we will never even fully know. So, we choose, a weekend, a particular Sunday, to remember particularly those to whom we owe so much.

We remember others, as well in the month of May. One weekend, in particular, has become synonymous with the month, with the ushering in of summer time, a time for picnics and family outings. Memorial Day weekend has become a time-honored tradition. Thankfully, many communities still honor the weekend with a parade, a quiet and solemn ceremony at a local cemetery; and events not marked so much by frivolity and fun; but, reflection and reverence. It is a time we remember the sacrifices of all the men and women who have given their lives in the guarding of our freedom in wars all across the globe. First begun immediately following the end of World War I, known then as, The Great War or the War to End All Wars, a new organization, the American Legion set out to honor the fallen soldiers from that war.

What became an enduring symbol of that war, is the poppy fields that cover the French hillsides. A poem made famous from that time and often read on Memorial Day in ceremonies across the country is called In Flanders Fields. I present its short verse to you here:

In Flanders Fields                 by John McCrae, 1872 – 1918

In Flanders fields the poppies blow

Between the crosses, row on row,

That mark our place, and in the sky,

The larks, still bravely singing, fly,

Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the dead; short days ago

We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,

Loved and were loved, and now we lie

In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe!

To you from failing hands we throw

The torch; be yours to hold it high!

If ye break faith with us who die

We shall not sleep, though poppies grow

In Flanders fields

Flanders Fields

Today, a small, paper poppy is worn by many to remind the rest of us that this weekend of Memorial Day, we have many people for whom to be grateful.  From the 40 million men and women injured or killed in that Great War, about fifty percent died. The photo of fields from the movie, Atonement by Alex Bailey gives a short glimpse back to those fields.

Since that war, another 1.5 million Americans have been wounded in war and of those at least a quarter were killed.  So, it is appropriate that we remember their sacrifices for us, for our way of life, for the freedoms we have to enjoy those picnics and parades. This Memorial Day, remember those who gave you the America you have today, with all its sores and stubbed toes; she is still our America where we have the freedoms so preciously bought for us by those long gone and by those yet born who will walk their own walk, in Flanders Fields.

On a weekend before Memorial Day; Americans have chosen to honor yet another group of heroes. Men and women who, every day in America walk the thin blue line to keep our homes, neighborhoods and communities safe. Our law enforcement gathers with family and friends each year in May at the National Law Enforcement Officers’ Memorial where those killed in the line of duty over the past year are immortalized with their name etched in the marble walls that, sadly, grow longer and fuller with each new year. This year, over three-hundred names will be added to the wall from the U.S. and her territories.  The war against police must stop but, until it does, those of us honored to be watched over by the men and women of the thin blue line should take this time in May to remember those who have given the last full measure of devotion to their brothers and sisters in blue, their communities and their nation. We should especially remember the families of those officers who have been murdered and re-commit ourselves to seeing that not only is justice done; but, those families never want for any single necessity because of the sacrifices made.

LEOMF

Yes, May, a month of memories. Let us never forget to remember.

 

Written by Dr. Ross l. Riggs, Chief of Police Retired, Member American Legion Post 44 Canton, Ohio