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.

A Heavy Heart

Law Enforcement Officers have been branded with the name of ‘sheepdogs’ because the sheepdog will sense trouble and will place himself between the danger and the ignorant sheep; and yes, the sheepdog may even die protecting those sheep who don’t know enough to escape or fight for themselves.

by Dr. Ross L. Riggs                                                                                                                                       Blue Line badge

Often, I write light-hearted articles on a myriad of topics. Sometimes, I pen a more serious topic; but none, captures my heart as does this one. You see, America lost another brave warrior this weekend. An Ohio cop killed by a man involved in a domestic dispute who ambushed officers as they came to his home to try to restore the peace. This is Ohio’s fourth for this year and America’s 107th, an average of nearly 3 every week. With ten more week’s left in 2017, I cannot help but wonder who will be the thirty officers who won’t see 2018 ring in with their families come New Year’s Day? Most of them won’t be there for Christmas morning either. Not a very happy thought is it? As the father of a police officer, I cannot help but wonder if my son is to be numbered among them. Perhaps not this year, but next?

What is crucial to remember is that no one, no police officer, firefighter or any other human being dies without God’s consent and, I believe, that it must be that person’s pre-ordained time to die. I spent most of my adult life – up until not too long ago – wearing a badge and standing along the thin blue line. I always knew that I could die in the line of duty; but, I also knew that, if I was not doing the job that I loved, not protecting those who were not able to protect themselves, not serving my community as I felt I was called to do; that I could die on any given day by any number of means, even the threatened frying pan from time to time! What mattered to me the most was, if I was to die, that it would be for something that mattered.

Some may look at certain officers killed in the line of duty by ignorant, socio-paths who did not deserve to breathe the same air as human beings and say, What a waste! I say, What a wonderful sacrifice! Jesus Christ said, “No greater love has anyone than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” Later in scripture, Paul writes to explain that Jesus died for the ungodly. He wrote, “For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die…” (Romans 5:6-8) And yet, police officers run toward danger when all others run away, and they don’t do it for the shooter, necessarily; although Officer Justin Leo was going to this man’s home to try to help them regain peace in their home. They do it for their community, their neighbors, their nation. The same people who deride them and seek ways to file complaints against them, declare their brutality to the social media hounds who pervert and distort the truth.

Law Enforcement Officers have been branded with the name of ‘sheepdogs’ because the sheepdog will sense trouble and will place himself between the danger and the ignorant sheep; and yes, the sheepdog may even die protecting those sheep who don’t know enough to escape or fight for themselves. Cops carry the moniker of sheepdog proudly. Would it be too much to ask if once-in-a-while, not expecting it might be more than that; but, at least occasionally, the sheep… instead of castigating and demanding retribution against police… maybe even a few of the sheep might, at the end of the day, look the sheepdog in the eye and say, “Thanks”?

Sheepdog