Why Die for a Stranger?

I couldn’t get this thought out of my mind last night … Why die for a stranger?

Would You Die for a Stranger?

As my head sat comfortably on the pillow, the thought, Why die for a stranger? bounced from one end of my cerebral cortex to the other.

I spent three decades in uniform, but never left my house thinking, Today is the day I may die for a stranger.

Interestingly enough, there were plenty of days that I prayed on the way to work asking God to keep my partners and me safe. But I never really considered that my life would be sacrificed for a complete stranger, even though I clearly understood the risk of death was ever present. Yet, would I willingly die for a stranger?

Conversely, I would without hesitation sacrifice my life for my wife, children, and grandkids … but a stranger? Uh, I don’t think so, or at least I’m not taking two paces forward if someone is asking for volunteers.

Assumed Risk

As the question made me restless, the reality that we (peace officers) intentionally place ourselves in peril to protect others became obvious. It’s an assumed risk business!

Well yeah, that is what we do, I pondered. We assume calculated risks.

Police officers intentionally respond to calls of domestic violence and place themselves between the abused and abuser. Sheriff’s deputies purposefully encounter an active shooter and do everything possible to neutralizer the killer before innocents are harmed. Cops aggressively seek armed robbers and murder suspects before they have a chance to victimize more of humanity.

So we, my brothers and sisters in arms, intentionally respond – purposefully encounter – aggressively seek crooks who abuse, maim, and kill others.

Consequently, it’s no wonder our deceased partners who died in the line of duty receive accolades saying they sacrificed their life for strangers, because they did!

stranger

Praying for safety for the Mississippi Highway Patrol prior to their leg escorting “The Trail of Tears.” (Photo courtesy Mary Ann Coggins Robertson)

Barriers Between Good and Evil

So perhaps you are like me? You are law enforcement professionals who become a barrier between good and evil, and thus, without putting it in these terms, are willing to die for a stranger … because someone needs to be on duty to maintain order … and it’s you!

That’s right. We all want order and stability. Any society that removes enforcers of law will have bedlam. And that is not a happy place to hang your hat.

I’m a Hypocrite

Finally, if I’m completely honest, I will not willingly die for a stranger. Yet if I find myself in the middle of rampant disorder, on or off-duty, the cop in me kicks in and I will take risks to preserve the life of others—total strangers—who are in danger.

As a result, I guess I’m a hypocrite. My mind thinks I will not die for a stranger, yet my actions say I will. What’s up with that?

Greater Love

“Greater love has no one than this,” said Jesus and documented by the apostle John, “that one lay down his life for his friends.” 

We hear this passage of Scripture frequently quoted during perilous times in the law enforcement community. I thank God that He has given police officers such tremendous love for humanity that we are willing to sacrifice our safety, and yes our life, for others. Because one day, that stranger might be a member of my family or yours!

Jim McNeff, editor-in-chief, Law Enforcement Today