Values For A New Millennium: A Book That Will Help Bridge the Gap Between People and The Police

Values

I have been observing the climate towards police in our country slowly evolve negatively over the last decade or longer. I have often talked about what it means to be a police officer in the United States and how we police have a huge responsibility to protect people and the constitution of the United States. Somewhere along the line policing started to become more about numbers and the people got lost somewhere outside those numbers. Perhaps we should stop looking at policing like a business focused on the bottom-line; numbers of arrests, tickets, and summons and more on solving community problems; i.e. mental health issues, drug and alcohol abuse, etc. that promote harmony throughout communities. Obviously crime fighting is part of policing but in reality only a small part. 80% or more of police action is centered on community quality of life issues but in too many police agencies these are not measured in an officer assessment. This leads officers to focusing on what is measured tickets, arrests, and summons. This numbers driven policing is at least partly responsible for the current disconnect between the people of the United States and the police. I have written on this topic several times in an effort to wrap my own mind around the problem and generate discussion hoping we can fight crime which is sometimes ugly and at the same time bridge the gap of misunderstanding and mistrust. What I call winning at low cost. My research led me to Values for a New Millennium: Activating the Natural Law to: Reduce Violence, Revitalize Our Schools, and Promote Cross-Cultural Harmony. Don’t let the title fool you, the book is well worth your time. Here are a few highlights that caught my attention.

The book Values For A New Millennium: Activating the Natural Law to: Reduce Violence, Revitalize Our Schools, and Promote Cross-Cultural Harmony was just simply a fantastic read if you are looking for ways to deal with conflict that effect meaningful and lasting change. Well written. Well researched and well translated to the real world problems we face. In today’s climate where police must balance persuasion and force as they deal with complex problems that include violence, it is important that we not only interact with the community, we must also understand how we are coming off in those interactions. It just may be the difference between working together and ripping each other apart. It may be the difference between creating harmony or discord. For a cop it just might make the difference in whether you gain voluntary compliance or non-compliance and have to use force or persuasion. When it comes to conflict and violence there is a delicate balance to be sought and Mr. Humphrey walked that fine line and kept that fine balance in a host of different roles and circumstances throughout his life.

Robert L. Humphrey was an Iwo Jima veteran, Harvard graduate, and cross cultural conflict resolution specialist during the Cold War. He proposed the "Dual Life Value Theory" of Human Nature. From the experiences of childhood in the Great Depression, trips as a teenager in the Panamanian Merchant Marines, national-class boxing, the awe-inspiring sights of selfless sacrifice on Iwo Jima, and finally, fifteen years in overseas ideological warfare, Humphrey observed that universal values exist and, ultimately control human behavior.

What he discovered about conflict and violence

Over the next three decades Humphrey conducted similar studies in a dozen countries, on all five major continents, in societies representing most of the world’s major religions. The overwhelming theme in every study was the same. The worldwide attitude, even though seldom voiced in the absence of an obviously sincere study, I now ascertain, expressed the conscious value that substantially controls all human relations, controls the existence of crime or tranquility in domestic relations, and controls the probabilities of peace or war in international affairs. The answer was: “Respect us as Equals. Did you anticipate this response? No one seemed to at that time. Frankly, at that time, I was amazed. Most overseas Americans had been warning me that the local nationals hated us just as most overseas Americans held the foreigners in low esteem. Yet, obviously, this response, respect us, is basically pro-American (Isn’t it?). The most frequent responses making up that general category were these:

  • Show us more respect
  • View us as equals
  • Treat us as equal human beings
  • Respect our human equality
  • Respect our women
  • Respect our culture
  • Don’t look down on us
  • Don’t consider us (stuff) in the grass
  • Don’t act like our bosses when you are not
  • Don’t call us names Respect our lives
  • Don’t consider our lives of less importance than your own

Once again the GOLDEN RULE: TREAT OTHERS, LIKE YOU WANT TO BE TREATED rears itself so plainly. Humphrey explains in the book after studying and working in efforts to resolve worldwide conflicts for years how he realized that the key was mutual respect or what he termed “The Dual life Value.” He explains this moment in a section of the book titled The Hunting Story: Think about the story for just a few minutes after you read it. It struck a nerve with me and how we as police sometimes look at those we police with an us verses them mindset.

“…As usual, on this trip, the sight of the ragged, destitute villagers drew comments from one or another American. A young airman proclaimed: “Look at them; they are like a bunch of animals. What have they got to live for? They might just as well be dead.” What can anyone say against those comments? They seemed true enough. I sat in chagrined silence, but this day, in response to those familiar words, the old sergeant drawled out his answer between spits of tobacco juice. He said, “You better believe they got something to live for, Jack. If you doubt it, let me see you jump down there and try to kill one of them with your hunting knife. They’ll fight you like no one ever heard of. I have fought beside them in heavy combat, and I don’t know either, why they seem to value their lives so much. Maybe it’s them women in them pantaloons, or maybe it’s them dirty-faced kids; whatever it is, they seem to value their lives just as much as we do ours, even with all of our money. In fact, both in combat and in freezing prison camps, they hung in there after a lot of Americans was yelling quit.” After the grizzled sergeant spoke, all the whispering stopped on the truck; everything went silent. I still recall hearing the villagers’ campfire crack in the sudden stillness of the early morning dusk; I heard the old sergeant suck and spit. I am sure my mouth dropped open. I was both embarrassed and excited. I thought to myself: Good God, he is talking about the equality of life and all of these rich Americans are buying it.”

In other words, human equality is almost equal with the basic life value in the natural order of values. Isn’t this why our Founding Fathers in 1775 named the right to life as the first characteristic of human equality? Isn’t this why they wrote on their flags, DON’T TREAD ON ME— don’t tread on me because I will not be ground down as if I were inferior to you, to your king, or to anyone— I am an equal human being!

WE HOLD THESE TRUTHS TO BE SELF-EVIDENT, THAT ALL MEN ARE CREATED EQUAL… ENDOWED… WITH CERTAIN UNALIENABLE RIGHTS

With this equal life value identified as the basic, universal value, we can see the formula for understanding cultural differences: Once we can explain to the members of one group the life-supporting reasons for another’s hated (misunderstood) differences, the hatred begins to subside. The differences become reasonable after they are seen to be life protectors. The formula is: THE LIFE VALUE (a given) +ENVIRONMENTAL DIFFERENCES (a variable) =HUMAN DIFFERENCES (Genetic and Cultural).

The Hollywood Affect, Bravado and Hubris

Humphries talks about the romanticized portrayals of warriors influence by Hollywood and evolved by our own bravado and hubris. That affects relationships of all kinds and has a negative effect on building positive connections. He also discusses the healthy role models of fighting men we should be emulating to make meaningful and lasting change when it comes to conflict and violence.

“The Rambo/ Chuck Norris screen portrayals are not just inadequate for the new era of low-intensity warfare, they are fallacious Hollywood fantasies. However, in their place, we do have real-life fighting role-models: Sergeant York and Audie Murphy for two examples. Single-handed, they did in fact take entire companies of enemy soldiers. But they did not accentuate fighting. Their heroics were momentary, last-resort details in their lives. They did not kill in anger— more likely in sadness, if not in prayer. As youngsters, they were considerate, humble, physically unimpressive men. They were excellent hunters and fist fighters— qualities which they developed as mere sidelines to normal lives in rough and robust areas of the U.S. When the license to kill is involved, fight-training is more wisely associated with self-discipline than it is with bravado. History’s most devastating fighter ever to grace a boxing ring, Joe Louis, was a humble, soft-spoken man. This is the healthy role-model image of a fighting man for our armies of fighting men.”

Policing has always debated all too often in a hostile way about the so called police militarization movement or is police officers role one of peacekeeping or law and order crime fighting. These hostile debates or arguments have stifled any real initiative in moving policing in a positive direction. Robert Humphreys talks about the dynamic or “closed minded immaturity” and its negative effect on evolving societies.

“America has been polarized and weakened by a close-minded immaturity among many educated Americans regarding the peacekeeping on one hand, and our law and order establishment on the other. Some of my hawkish friends are solidly rational on all other topics. They are typically great guys who literally hit you on the arm with a friendly hello every morning. (I call them the hitters.) Then one day you happen to mention the peace movement with a tone of objectivity. Their minds close like the slamming of prison doors to a conjured specter of your imagined unilateral disarmament policies. If you confront their misapprehension, they express their willingness to die for your right to say anything, just as long as you never again mention that fuzzy-minded word, peace.

Similarly, some of my dovish friends will hug you hello every morning until they fit your ribs (the huggers). Then one day you commit the sin of referring objectively to the military. They go glassy-eyed, drop their heads, and quiver in a little emotional trauma. They give you one last patronizing hug of farewell in the absurd conviction that you must believe in nuclear war because you mentioned that evil institution, the military.

These two immature groups for too long have cut off rational discussion regarding the topics of world peace, on the one side, and the possibility of a responsible military on the other. By remaining fanatically closed in their minds, unable to think about and discuss either one of these two topics, each childish group increases the possibility that we will lose our cherished democracy.”

Values for a New Millennium is packed full of information that is very useful in today’s society even, here at home. The information contained in the book, if we heed the advice and lessons learned can help make a difference and truly connect the gap between the people and the police. I highly recommend this book!

Stay Oriented!

Fred