Wednesday, September 26, 2007
Agents of Mercy
Agents of Mercy
As I was watching the DVD of Grave of the Fireflies and it occurred to me that while I tend to glorify the warrior nature of Police work, an equal or even greater element of this profession is our actions as agents of God’s mercy. Matthew 5:6-8 states: 6God blesses those who are hungry and thirsty for justice, for they will receive it in full. 7God blesses those who are merciful, for they will be shown mercy. 8God blesses those whose hearts are pure, for they will see God. Police Officers also help the helpless and give aid to those in need. Psalm 10:8-10 states: 8They lurk in dark alleys, murdering the innocent who pass by. They are always searching for some helpless victim. 9Like lions they crouch silently, waiting to pounce on the helpless. Like hunters they capture their victims and drag them away in nets. 10The helpless are overwhelmed and collapse; they fall beneath the strength of the wicked. I believe that being agents of mercy is the greatest job perk, well above all the many other positives of Police work (And there are truly many positives). There are few if any other professions that can help as many people as profoundly as we can. While the pursuit and arresting of criminals, “kicking ass and taking names” (In a context of legal, justifiable action) is a sexier concept, and one that will score you more points at a dinner party than speaking of mercy, aid and compassion, it falls a distant second in reality. For the vast majority of professions the best an employee can say at the end of the day is that they either made their company more money or saved them money. We, in Law Enforcement, each and every day, can say we loved our neighbor and made their lives better and we are the only profession that carries a gun while doing it. The opportunity to show a lost and wicked world the power of a transforming God comes in large and small doses. Romans 5:6 states: 6When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners. We mirror this, the greatest of examples, in a less perfect and smaller way, the ultimate example of perfect mercy.
I responded to a call for an ambulance assist at a home in our town for a little boy with a head wound. I arrived at the home well in advance of our paramedics. As I was walking up the sidewalk to the home I could hear the child hysterically screaming from inside the home through their screen door. A young mother met me at the door with tears streaming down her face holding a little boy of no more than six-years-of-age with a bleeding head wrapped in a white bath towel. I was immediately greeted with a high speed, rambling, barely comprehendible, account of how this child was injured. The little boy was jumping on the bed when he miss-stepped and came crashing down headfirst onto the corner of a close by five-drawer dresser. A young child takes some of his emotional cues from the emotional state of his parent, and if the parent is scared, worried or anxious the child will mirror this reaction without understanding the triggering event that caused the emotion. It is compounded when the child is emoting the same feelings as their parent. The child will layer their feelings with the input from the parent and will increasingly become more and more emotional. It was occurring in this case. The little boy was scared and in pain. The mother was running around, screaming and crying. Thus the little boy became panicked and terrified and that is when I entered the door. When I found him, he was screaming and thrashing about making his head wound slowly rip wider. I immediately took the child away from the mother and brought him over to the couch and sat him down, with his mother hovering right behind me. I obtained a more coherent account of her story about how the injury occurred and sent my backup Officer upstairs to confirm her story in order to make sure this was not really some form of child abuse. I pulled the towel back and saw the wound streaming blood down into the child’s face and the flap of skin pulled back to show a small bit of bone and sinew. I donned my latex gloves and found a sterile four by four out of their home medical kit and held it into place with my hand. The child still would not stop screaming. I looked into his eyes and started speaking to him but he would not and could not listen. I said in my best authorial parental voice, “Lawrence, look at me. No, look at me, look at my eyes!” He paused mid-scream and looked at my face for the first time. I inquired if he was looking at my eyes and he sniveled a little and nodded yes. I asked him if he was hurt and he again nodded yes. I smiled and asked him if he knew who I was and in a small voice he said, “A Policeman.” I told him to look around and tell me how many Policemen were in his home. He slowly looked around and said, “Four”. I tried to sound as kindly as possible when I asked him how he could be so sad when he was knee deep in Policemen and soon there would be firemen into the mix as well. A slow smile crept across his face and he soon forgot that he was injured. I removed my rechargeable stinger flashlight from my gear belt, hit the on switch and asked the boy to hold it for me for a minute. He started giggling when he used the flashlight to light up the faces of the other Officers in the room. A moment later a phalanx of firefighters and paramedics burst through the door. I began to pull away to let a firefighter treat the child’s wound but when the child felt me start to move, he clutched at me and began to cry again. I sat back down next to him and told the paramedic what had occurred to cause his head injury. The paramedic tried to reach over to check the wound, but every time he got close to the child’s forehead, the child pushed into my body and buried his head into my chest. After the third attempt by the paramedic to inspect the boy’s wound, the paramedic looked over at me, shrugged, and gestured for me to either calm the child down or bring him over to the stretcher and while the boy is kicking and screaming, strap him down so that he may be treated. I thought for a moment and said to the little boy, “Do you know what happens to little boys when they are visited by Policemen and firemen? They get a special hat so that everyone knows they were lucky enough to have this special visit. The paramedic needs for to you to hold still so that he can make your special hat or it will not look very good.” The child stared at the paramedic with a trace of suspicion in his eyes but after a moment he nodded and leaned forward so that he could have his wound treated. The paramedic wrapped clean and sterile four by fours around his head until he looked like a recently released lobotomy patient. The boy was so proud of his newly created haberdashery that when his brother entered the room, because he no longer heard hysterical crying so he thought it was safe, turned and pointed to his head and told his brother about his special hat. The brother was so impressed with the headgear that he began to pester the paramedics to give him a hat too. A short time later, they did just that. The little boy was smiling and waving goodbye when he was shipped off in the ambulance to the hospital for his stitches. The mother and her other son walked past me so that they could meet the wounded child at the hospital. The mother turned, gave me a quick hug and said, “Thank you. I do not know what I would have done, if you had not come” and with that the mother, the assembled Policemen and firemen all walked out of the apartment. Matthew 25:39-41 states: 39When did we ever see you sick or in prison, and visit you? 40And the King will tell them, `I assure you, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!' 41"Then the King will turn to those on the left and say, `Away with you, you cursed ones, into the eternal fire prepared for the Devil and his demons! We as Law Enforcement professionals are paid to fulfill this requirement. James 2:13 states: 13For there will be no mercy for you if you have not been merciful to others. But if you have been merciful, then God's mercy toward you will win out over his judgment against you.