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The Heart of Order


The Heart of Order

Robert C. Koehler

He’d left the water running, flooding neighbors’ apartments. He’d been running around outside naked. By the time police arrived, he was standing in the window of his fourth-floor apartment on Farwell Avenue — a few blocks from where I live in the diverse, unpredictable Chicago neighborhood called Rogers Park — threatening to jump.


before this morning i'd missed seeing the photo of six year old elian ganzales with a military rifle in his face. gee, this child had already experienced so much trauma in his short life. he was rescued from the capsized boat, but his mother's body has never been found. several years ago i saw a news piece about an adolescent elian enjoying the company of classmates in cuba. now that sixteen years have passed since that photo i wonder what 22 year old elian gonzales is up to in cuba. according to this abc video elian plans to complete his education in engineering and marry his high school sweetheart. for some reason his florida relatives have never attempted to contact him since the day that photo was taken. he'd love to hear from them, especially his older cousin who became like a much needed mother figure to him, but he's glad to be back with his father and says that in cuba he feels safe.

somehow the extreme militarism of our police utterly fails to give u.s. citizens a sense of security and well being. in fact the effect is most unsettling! why oh why would armored vehicles show up to calm an obviously unarmed naked man? i feel that the police themselves cover their own unvoiced fears behind riot gear, pepper spay, guns and tanks. the current philosophy of good policing seems to be 'get your bluff in quick, intimidate and control the public into obedience'. many in municipal police forces suffer unresolved post traumatic disorders from military experiences. we often hear the call for better training, but let's face it those who recruit and train the police look for those aggressive, bully-like qualities which contribute to our police state atmosphere. others suggest body cams, but doesn't that leave all evidence of a confrontation solely in the hands of the brotherhood of police?

i commend you, robert, on the handling of your stubborn four year old daughter who asserted her right not to put on her coat. you talked with her as equals allowing her the dignity to make the right decision on her own. you were running late that day, bob, but you put your priorities in order.


Our out lived economic system, aka Capitalism, perpetuates the use of violence and force [farce] to resolve conflict.
Mr Koehler sees a way forward for our species and all life on earth. What's wrong with cooperation and compromise? It sure beats the hell out of war.
I make a point of reading his articles on Common Dreams.


"Half a century later, all that’s changed is the technology: what you might call the technology of insecurity. Our powers of retaliation are more massive than ever. It’s the mutually assured destruction complex, perhaps: the governmental abdication, at every level, of any attempt to achieve a complex understanding of human behavior and the maintenance of social order sheerly by the use of force or its symbolic display."

Actually, it's the natural progression of Mars rules and the preponderant status allotted to the military... reflexive to the worldview that lends homage to the male god of stern judgment, violence, and patriarchal domination.


This is a well thought-out piece that doesn't claim to have all the answers, because those answers aren't easy, of course.

The central thesis can be summed up by the old saw "you can catch more flies with honey than you can with vinegar," which is true. But the implication is that de-escalation must be the first thing that's tried, and in today's increasingly militarized police forces, that's a tough sell.

Of course, it makes sense for everyone. If a situation can be de-escalated, everyone is much safer. Sadly, it seems that many police forces only believe that absolute and immediate obedience to anything they scream repeatedly at someone (a disorienting experience in and of itself) is the only way to handle any situation.

Sometimes force is necessary, but it should be the last thing that's tried, not the first. This won't just take a change in police culture, of course, because that exists within a larger cultural framework that defines domination as success and mocks such things as tenderness and compassion even as it pays them lip service.

(edited for some typos, because I'm a lousy typist...)


Indeed. The floggings will improve whilst moral continues; the key to understanding monotheism. The Greeks and Romans had a better idea of gods; some for wine, some for women, some for song.