Heroes, Saws, Axes & Us

“Bob, can I ask you a question?”

“Sure,” he says.  Of course he does, Bob is one of the kindest heroes I’ve met.

“Has anyone over the age of 5 ever asked to wear any of this?”  He pauses, because Bob is kind, and then, almost like the perfect beat in a really good script, he replies, “Never.”

Like you would say no to wearing fireman jackets (that weigh 20 pounds!), hard hats, and pose with chainsaws and axes in high heels.  Well, maybe you would say no to the heels.

We love our LAPD, LAFD, our community, our teachers and we couldn’t be more proud to live in our city.  That said, I can’t imagine its easy to do any service job in Los Angeles.

We’ve attended many meetings where those in public office get their butts handed to them by citizens of our local community who are upset about parking, traffic, road conditions, noisy neighbors and worse, fussing for change.  Thanks to the media and my own rap sheet (which is deferred…again…to a future post), I used to think cops were bad guys and wondered if they were serving the community or hating on the community.

I have a history of assuming the worst in politicians and until recently, never considered the individuals serving on their (usually huge) teams, who actually are devoted to seeing change in our city.  I complain about the school system with the best of them, growing self-righteous and angry watching documentaries like Lottery, wondering why change isn’t happening – doesn’t anyone see what’s going on?

I sometimes (okay, more than sometimes) judge those people at the meetings we attend, thinking, geez louise, complainers… Give the cops (deputy, councilman, teacher, city controller, insert other service job here) a break!  The problem is, we’re all “those people”.  How easy it is to see a problem and to think, “What tha?  That shoulda been fixed!”  How easy it is to criticize people we don’t know, judge administrative dynamics we know nothing about, and keep sitting on our gluteus maximus thinking we have all the solutions to complicated problems that look so simple from our perspective.

Even if we’re right, and the solutions are simpler than the approach we evaluate from a distance, the attitude certainly doesn’t benefit either side of the coin.  Its not a voice that deserves to be heard, because it is not from a heart that wants to serve.

Real change happens when a diverse community of people come together in unity to serve.  Maturity is seen in those willing to do whatever will actually serve the people in charge, rather than complaining about the people in charge.  If you’re like me and you’ve ever thought to yourself, “If I was in that role, I’d do ________,” then a critical nature has probably crept in and it gets hard to serve people’s actual needs, because we all are tempted to, or often do, lean towards serving our own needs.

The truth is, none of us know what we’d do if we were the police chief, a firefighter, principal, superintendent, prison ward, pastor, city controller, the mayor or president.  We don’t know what’s in us until it applies.

We need less critics and more servants in our cities to see tangible change.  I know God is changing me as I serve real needs and not what I think are the real needs.  I heard Wendy Greuel speak this week (by the way, she’s a candidate for Mayor in 2013, and I am pretty sure she has my vote!)  She said a powerful statement:  “There’s nothing wrong with Los Angeles that can’t be fixed with what’s right with Los Angeles.”

There’s a lot of wisdom in that.  Props to the heroes in our community.


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