I’ve had a complicated situation with having taken in two teenagers a couple of years ago, without having had actual custody. I therefore did not have full authority to make decisions on behalf of the young people. A relative of one of the teens called the police repeatedly. I called on this relative a few times myself. Officers from the Asheville Police Department have been out to my house around 15 times in the last two years. I have found them to be concerned about people’s welfare, respectful of our constitutional rights, exercising sound judgment and functioning as real allies in my efforts to be helpful to the young people.
People may assume that my positive assessment of the police I have interacted with is because I am an uncritical supporter of the status quo. Such an assumption would be far from the truth: I have been an anti-war activist, especially against our invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq. I have been arrested for civil disobedience.
I’ve had my own homestead in West Asheville, where a continually changing group of us grew fruits and vegetables, raised poultry and even had goats for a while; some residents slept in the main house, while others slept in outbuildings in the yard. When the “building and safety” department of Asheville city government became aware of people sleeping in the outbuildings, they put a stop to that aspect of our homesteading endeavor. One of my neighbors once remarked, “I couldn’t hope to have better neighbors than you folks.” Still the building codes at that time did not allow for people sleeping in outbuildings. In many ways, I have lived on the fringe of society.
The police are in a difficult position: They are employees of a government, and all governments that I have investigated are corrupt. Still, without a government to make laws and enforce them, do many really believe that everyone would treat their fellow citizens better than the laws require — and are usually able to compel — them to now? In a course titled Big History, the lecturer David Christian stated: As organisms become more complex, a nervous system develops, and as societies become more complex, they form governments.
Unfortunately, corruption is ubiquitous (everywhere or seemingly everywhere); character is often sacrificed in the pursuit of power. None of us are completely immune from misusing whatever power we do have: Look at what we often do with our consumer choices. Even governing ourselves properly is challenging at times, often requiring courageous, honest self- reflection upon our own faults and shortcomings, especially when looking into the mirror of relationship.
The police are being disproportionately (to an extent which is out of proportion, beyond what is fitting) blamed for our societal woes, while most of us refuse to reflect adequately upon our own poor choices. The Asheville police who have come out to my house have been doing their humanly, albeit imperfect, best to be helpful and respectful, and I have appreciated their efforts.
— Steve Arpin