We are asking our police officers to do the impossible. In the present atmosphere of great decadence, they cannot keep order.
We have saddled them with the task of enforcing the law while constantly undermining it through our culture. Until we address this contradiction, the police’s task will be an exercise in futility.
The Wrong Narrative
Many think the way out of this dilemma is to deny it exists. The leftist narrative puts the blame upon our policing system, which it claims is racist and oppressive. By framing it as a structural problem, people can avoid the effort needed to change society. They can demand entitlements and rights while neglecting responsibility.
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Above all, this narrative allows us to deny a great truth: The police crisis is not caused by a system but stems from our incapacity to define moral law.
We have reached the point of moral relativism where few dare affirm that there is a right and wrong. No action can be deemed immoral or blasphemous. Systems, not people, are held responsible for bad actions.
In such circumstances, criminal acts become brutal and inhuman. These crimes shatter the social institutions of family, community and faith that should help keep the peace. Evermore brutal crimes trigger brutal acts of suppression where split-second decisions must be made to save lives.
Instilling Doubts About the Role of Police
Inside this moral wasteland, police officers risk losing their identity. The media uproars against them cause them to doubt their mission and lose the notion of their legitimacy.
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Thus, the police officer is reduced to the cold mechanical enforcer of a legal code that tries to mitigate the inevitable clash of unbridled passions in society. The law is no longer a moral compass that facilitates virtuous life in common but a cold and lifeless tool to attempt to control outbursts.
All the while, the political establishment demands law and order from police officers while stabbing them in the back through their constant favoring of a culture with no morality or restraint.
All Authority Must Support Order
It makes for an untenable situation. It is an impossible mission. In a world of disorder, no police force—however large, well equipped or well trained—can hope to keep even a mechanical order. We cannot live for long inside this contradiction.
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Indeed, in an ordered society, all social authorities, wherever and whoever they may be, help protect morality and suppress the evils that threaten the good order of society. A business owner, a theater director or a professor do not allow immoral or disordered acts in the places under their supervision.
In an organic Christian society, the father, the security guard or the bus driver—every legitimately constituted authority—opposes and suppresses what is wrong and subverts peace and order. Above all, clergy and religious constantly teach souls the need to abide by God’s Law.
The constant mobilization of all these authorities against evil creates a culture that is inhospitable to disorder and crime. Where a virtuous culture exists and is strong and vibrant, the work that remains for the police is reduced to the minimum. Everyone, through the culture, is helping to maintain society in peace and promoting the common good.
Why We Have No Order
That is not our world today. We have no order today because authorities at every level—yes, from the President and bishops down to the simplest father—are derelict in their duty to oppose and suppress the evils of the day. They abandon their responsibilities in the name of an erroneous liberal notion of freedom that turned ordered liberty into license—letting everyone do whatever they want when they want. Some authorities collude with the evildoers; others lack the courage to challenge and change our society’s misguided culture.
Then, when things go wrong and society starts to fray and rip apart, they call 911. They fully expect law enforcement to do miracles, forestalling the consequences of their own sinful and criminal negligence. They expect the police to pick up and glue back the broken pieces of the families and communities that they—yes, they, every authority from the President and bishops down to the simplest father—have themselves destroyed over decades of neglect.
It is an impossible mission for the police. They are blamed and castigated. They are made the scapegoats for the cowardice and dereliction of duty that have long informed the nation’s leadership in very troubled times when only moral courage can save America.
The Search for Transcendence
Thus, we need moral law.
However, moral law alone is not enough to keep the peace. Rules must be oriented to higher ends that give them meaning and purpose. Thus, we must also have a notion of the transcendent reality that towers above our whims and self-interest and speaks to us of higher things.
Indeed, for true order, we must seek after what Russell Kirk called those “permanent things” such as the norms of courage, duty, honor, justice and charity. These virtues are permanent because they owe their existence and legitimacy, not to our petty self-interest or the U.S. Constitution, but to Almighty God.
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People must sense that sacred and metaphysical ambiance that facilitates our search for the good, true and beautiful—the order placed by God in Creation. If not, all is lost.
When nothing is sacred, all things will revert to the police since no rule will be honored for its inherent value. Without a higher vision, we are left to our intemperance.
The mania for gratification will always lead to brute force to deal with the resulting depravity. Those who vilify the police prepare the way for totalitarianism that sooner or later will take control.
A Religious Problem
That is why the police crisis is ultimately a religious problem. A moral society only makes sense in the face of a transcendent God who governs the universe and establishes the rules by which we can live together according to our social nature. It presupposes the Church that defines and directs society toward our sanctification.
When morality is gutted, and everything is reduced to a secular legal code, the priest will necessarily be replaced by the policeman. And short of a dictatorship, there will never be enough of them to prevent the slide to depravity and barbarism.
Those who blame the system for our woes would do well to turn inward. Each one of us has some responsibility for the present unrest. We get the police we deserve.
When we insist that the police protect us without changing morals or our liberal and perverse culture, we ask the police to become the rearguard of a self-destructing society. We are already in defeat. The police merely organize, as best they can, the nation’s retreat into dissolution and chaos.
Indeed, we do well to recognize and thank our police officers that form that thin blue line that separates society from the barbarism inside the walls. However, we should not expect the impossible from the police. They are not miracle workers.
If we want to survive as a nation, we must reject the present narrative and embrace a return to God.