My first thought was to write off all the bluster about the police officers who walked off the job doing security at a Minnesota Lynx game the other day, as just one of those things that happen when emotions are running high.
The more I think about it, thought, the more it seems like exactly the wrong thing to do.
First, where I come from, when you sign on to do a job, you do the job, to the best of your ability. You don't walk because the job got difficult or uncomfortable. When the job is done, if you feel you weren't treated fairly, you turn in your notice, do your best to finish your stint professionally, help train your replacement if asked, and you move on.
We can't judge the officers who walked off, because we have not been in their shoes. We can't say if they felt unsafe, or harassed, in the Target Center environment. We can't say what we would do in their position; we're not. We can't know what emotions were caused by the shirts the players were wearing.
It's not easy being an officer in these times, we can scarcely imagine the pressures and emotions. There is no need to judge the individuals, especially without having the entire story. All we can do is talk about the action that was taken, and what it could mean.
What if an innocent person had been hurt at the event because of a preventable incident or accident, with the entire security detail on walkout?
It's important to note here, that the officers were off-duty, moonlighting for some extra cash as private security at the sports arena. They were not representing their police department or the police profession at the time they walked off the job.
But when the president of the Minneapolis Police Federation, the union that represents police employees, praised the officers for quitting, that did make it something of a police-related matter.
"I commend them for it," he said.
Commending security officers for not doing their job protecting the public? I have to call BS on that.
What if they were on duty at a call where people need them, and they decided not to serve, because they are offended by a shirt, or a sign, or something someone yells? Can you imagine an officer at a local ball game quitting their post because they don't like a high school student's shirt? We can't either.
The Lynx players of the WNBA came out in warm-up tops that read, "Change starts with us" and underneath, "justice and accountability. On the back had shooting victims' names, a Dallas Police Department symbol, and "Black Lives Matter."
That's a lot to tackle with a t-shirt. Change does start with us, all of us. Justice and accountability is what law enforcement, and society, is all about. And I don't think anyone can argue with the fact that lives matter.
Perhaps the word 'black' is the tipping point here. "Black lives matter" - if you take that to mean other lives don't, then no wonder you are offended. But are we sure that's the intended message?
The players had made a point in a press conference before the game of both speaking out against racial profiling and mourning the loss of Dallas police officers in a "senseless ambush."
The police union guy says that if the players don't change their opinions, no one may be willing to provide security for their games at all.
Here's the thing. Quitting doesn't solve anything. Trying to force people into changing their outlook never works.
An opportunity is missed here for a dialogue, and we need that conversation now.
Walking away only reinforces the "black vs. blue" mentality that seems to be prevailing all too often in many urban communities. We need to come to grips with that, before more people get hurt.
We don't need to choose sides. You can support the police who protect and serve the communities, AND support the African-American population - it is in no way mutually exclusive, and don't let anyone tell you otherwise.
We can mourn the black lives lost in high-profile incidents, AND the lives of officers tragically murdered, while knowing that these are a few isolated incidents among many thousands of daily contacts between officers and the public.
The media and the population is whipped into a frenzy for any clash between white officers and black people, and right or wrong, I don't see that changing any time soon.
Wise people will refuse to fall into an "us vs. them" reaction. Their sense of perspective will not be lost among adversarial Facebook posts.
We don't have to pick sides because we're all on the same one - wishing to make the communities we live in safe and fair to all.
The basketball players have a right to express their opinion, and so do police officers. If those opinions clash, lets talk it through, and learn from one another. Let's dig into the issues that trouble our communities, and seek understanding together.
Let's not turn our backs and walk away from each other. That's just what those who wish to fan violence and hatred are trying to manipulate us to do.