A deputy who pulled over a speeding car saved a newborn’s life. The baby had stopped breathing after drinking from a bottle, her body turning blue and unresponsive. The officer’s body camera tells the rest of the story: he checked the pulse and performed CPR until the baby began to breathe on her own. After a short emergency visit at a local hospital, the newborn was released. The deputy saved a life while doing his duty—for sure a tale to remember and tell.
Another officer jeopardized people’s lives while on duty. He was indicted last week for 52 charges of “racketeering, false imprisonment, official misconduct, fabricating evidence and possession of controlled substances, among other charges” and may be imprisoned for up to 30 years. The officer pulled vehicles over for minor traffic violations but ended up falsely arresting people on drug possession. He framed random innocent people by placing meth in their cars during a “search,” keeping the body camera off until the substance was supposedly “found”. But one of the rare cases, when he left the camera on, helped bring out the truth. The effect of this criminal behavior is difficult to gauge. “People are losing their lives, their freedom, their children, their marriages — all because of this one man…. It’s not just innocent men. It’s innocent children. It goes a lot deeper than everyone realizes,” said the sister of a young man who was forced into rehab for a year after being falsely accused.
Two policemen on duty: one saves a random, innocent life, the other endangers random, innocent lives. A strange picture of a reality we are confronted with daily: good and evil dwell together. Wrong, twisted, irritating, and highly consequential, but true. Similar stories could be told about any profession. Why? Because in every profession there are humans, and humans are prone to sin. Aside from being a blunt reality-check, these news stories also show that often times it is not a context or a uniform that defines what is good and evil, it is a human in a context or in a uniform.
Many people say that they don’t go to church because of the people in the church. Usually, this comes with some examples to support the choice. But malicious or immoral people don’t define the church any more than a policeman’s dishonest behavior defines his job. And yet, they do. I would say that theoretically, they don’t, but practically they do. We are so intricately connected that we cannot escape influencing others. Whether we like it or not, what we do and who we are is going to play a part in people’s definition of things like church, parenthood, marriage, love, Christianity, Adventism, and all sorts of professions and roles we play. In the large scheme of things, playing our role well may seem like a small, relatively inconsequential thing. But the influence is much greater than we think. As we engage in different activities and switch from role to role and task to task in our daily lives, may we remember that doing things right is not only in our benefit or for a foreseeable and immediate benefit but may have deeper ramifications in space and time.