Wednesday, June 17, 2020

What We Want

Today, our President told us that we don’t know what we want.

I almost knew what he meant (which is in itself cause for concern).  It’s a lot like how I used to describe what a social worker did.

We stand on the outside of the doors with our hands pressed firmly, holding them shut.  Behind those doors are your nightmares, your disturbances, your issues.  We do our best to shield you. You really don’t want to see what would happen if we stepped away.  You want us there.

And that was supposed to be happening now.  Crisis Teams, willing to go into volatile situations with their wits and their hearts, leading with compassion instead of weaponry.  It sounded just like the job for me - in the middle of things, in the moment, present at the event itself.  The long term solutions could be left to those more inclined in that direction; I was more of an Emergency Room medic than a rehabilitation specialist.

Well, that was how I envisioned my future.  Unfortunately, the funding never materialized.  All those hands holding back the thundering hordes were whisked away.  And now we have police resolving mental health issues, resolving them with loaded revolvers on their hips.

Yes, sir, we do want law and order.  But I want to put the emphasis on the order piece, the structure within which we approach these issues.  That's a social work point of view, seeing the client in the context of his system, making the kinds of changes with and for the individual, within and without, in the psyche and in the world around them.

Yes, it was a lovely dream.  It's nice to see it creeping out around the edges of the Defund The Police debacle.  

I get it - if it bleeds, it leads.  Defund the Police will get the trolls a roiling, the message boards screaming, the letters to the editor pouring in.  That's good for business.  

Refund social services.  Recommit to peace.  Rethink our approach to everything.  We're supposed to be sheltering in place, anyway.  We might as well make good use of our time.


  1. As a former elementary teacher, I knew my job was to get to know the thinking processes of my students. When the "law and order' of the classroom was disrupted, I needed to find out why, not just punish. Working with people, as you know, is about problem solving. Locking someone up - incarceration - doesn't really solve the problem, and shooting them certainly doesn't.


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