Blessed are the Peacemakers
In the Bible, Matthew 5:9 reads, "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God"...or in more modern translation, 'children of God'. I wanted to take a moment to help some people understand just a few possible reasons why peacemakers, protectors, conflict resolutionists, etc... why they might be considered 'blessed' in what they do.
Now, right off the bat, I know why some detractors of law enforcement would shrug their shoulders at that verse as it relates to the professional law enforcement officer. I know that some people out there, of the very pacifist side (and I am not saying there is something wrong with being a pacifist), will question what, if anything, is peaceful about a man or woman having to carry a gun on their hip. I understand their point of view - but if we all shared that point of view, we'd have no police officers, and people who want to hurt other people will have no consequences for their actions, and they won't have anyone to stop them from hurting others. So, while it may not be something we like to talk about or consider, a pacifist's opinion in this matter may or may not be a little skewed.
However, I also know there are those out there who just think police officers do what they do because they get their jollies from being in charge, or in control. They think cops just enjoy pushing others around because they think the badge on their chest or the patch on their shoulder gives them a free pass to do so. While there are some officers out there who seem to have this mentality, I am here to tell you, they are the minority. And if you are one of the unfortunate folks out there who have had nothing but negative encounters with the police, then I think you need to evaluate two things: 1)What are your thoughts on obligation to follow the law? 2)Who are you hanging out with every day?
And then of course there are those numerous people out there who fully support law enforcement and security for what they do, but perhaps they haven't taken a hard look at how Matthew 5:9 applies to them.
Can each and every one of us be peacemakers? Absolutely...but just like I think all of us are teachers to someone at one point or another in our life, and there are different levels of teaching - I think there are different levels of being a peacemaker as well. But I will not discount that first small point; all of us can be peacemakers.
If you ever broke up a fight between siblings, you were a peacemaker. If you ever stood up for a friend against bullies, you were a peacemaker. If you helped two people see different sides to an argument, you were a peacemaker in that moment. If you have ever felt bad about harming or letting down another individual, but you apologized and made up the actions to the hurt individual, you were acting as a peacemaker. And if you've ever been a part of those situations and helped it come to a peaceful conclusion - you were blessed by the sense of peace itself.
But let's take a look at the other facets of being a peacemaker. And we can start with law and order.
What would happen to society if we did not have laws? In a word - chaos. Anarchy; people would govern themselves, and if you understand the Bible, people just being trusted to govern themselves eventually leads to selfish actions by one person or another, which inevitably will become evil actions at one point or another; history proves this eventuality. So we have laws in place in each community, and those laws provide a structure and framework to help maintain order in the society. Now, see the book of Genesis in the Bible for what happens if we trust people to just do what is right on their own; let's breeze on forward past Sodom and Gomorrah, Noah's flood, the Tower of Babel; the Middle Ages, and so on; enter, stage right...the law enforcement officer. Someone has to exist to enforce the law; to make sure people are following those laws. This enforcement can be done through deterrence, through presence, and through direction. However, for those who refuse to follow the law, the enforcers of that law can detain, issue financial penalties and summons to court, arrest and deny some liberties, and in extreme situations - kill in order to stop or prevent the worst evil from happening. As one can imagine, officers around the world can see things resolved in the most positive ways, or the worst ways imaginable. Yet once a resolution has happened, you can bet that most officers, if they are wired the least bit like me, can find some peace - if the people they thought they were helping found peace as well. I am not talking about some peace brought about by self-righteousness, though that can happen. But I am talking about a deep satisfaction that the person who needed them most, at that particular time, found peace...or found an answer.
While most who would never consider this position in life would doubt the sanity of those individuals that do, there is something to be said for when gratitude is sent in the direction of an officer, deputy, agent, etc. who helps solve citizens' conflicts. One may even consider that a form of...blessing.
There are different levels of peacemaking if you ask me. I think officers or protectors from all backgrounds face a variety of opportunities to peacefully resolve conflict, or bring an eventuality of peace, despite very dangerous or violent surroundings or circumstances. I instruct people every day on the importance of verbal de-escalation. I stress that the goal to resolve a conflict for everyone should be that nobody has to put hands on anyone. But I also point out that unfortunately, the no-hands-on approach will not always come to fruition. The reality that there are simply some evil people in this world who want to harm others becomes very evident to those who work in law enforcement. This is a reality that the average citizen doesn't want to admit. This truth is unsettling to most outside of the fields of law enforcement and security. Yet someone has to face it. I am a firm believer that true blessings to a person, blessings from God, are intangible. And I think that as warped as it sounds, those of us that wish to help others feel safe, feel blessed for the opportunity to do so. So yes, I can speak for most protectors I know when I say, if possible, I would prefer to find a peaceful solution every time without having to resort to force of any kind. But when evil presents itself, no matter what form, someone has to either stop it, or let evil have its way. There's no middle ground when it comes to evil.
But do you know where the real blessings can come, for a peace officer; an officer of the law; a sheriff's deputy; a federal agent; a Narc; a Secret Service Agent? I guarantee you that the greatest blessing for any officer who is worth his or her salt is the sheer number of lives, throughout their career, on which they know they had a positive impact. That in and of itself can bring peace to one's soul. And it's not so much because we feel like we are good people for doing so, but because we feel like it is exactly what we were wired to do. It's probably worth a whole other blog post, and I probably have an old one somewhere in the internet - but I have always viewed law enforcement and security as a calling. If you're just looking for a paycheck, you might want to check your priorities.
Now let's go back to the role of the average person to be a peacemaker. You might not get to save someone's life. You might not get to train others in ways to handle volatile situations. You may not be in charge of protecting this client or that client. But if your goal in every encounter with other people is to have a peaceful encounter, and you make that shine through in the way you treat others every day, you are also a peacemaker. What if each and every one of us put effort in this, every single day. Can you imagine how much more peaceful the world would be? So if you read all this, I have a challenge for you. If you want to experience some of God's blessings, ask yourself this every time you're about to speak to someone, whether you know them or not. What can I say to this person to let them see that I am peaceful? Maybe then, you, too, can be one of the blessed peacemakers.
But the secret to peace for your soul, especially as it relates to eternity? Well, that's another story-