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The Consequences of a Random Act

Looking Glass

A friend of mine recently told me this story…

I was sitting in a restaurant when I noticed a couple of police officers enter. It was lunch time and, obviously taking a break, they were promptly seated across the busy room. I didn’t think much more about it, and went back to my meal and conversation. After a while, the officers finished eating and rose to leave. They passed by my table, but stopped before they reached the door to talk to the manager. I noticed the manager point back toward my table, at which point the two officers began walking back in my direction. Just before reaching me, they stopped at the table right next to mine. There was a family — dad, mom, and a couple of kids — sitting enjoying their meal, when I overheard one of the officers speak to the dad.

“Excuse me… I feel like maybe we weren’t supposed to know, but somehow that got lost in the translation,” the officer said to the father.

The father smiled knowingly and shook his head. “You weren’t.”

“Well, that was very kind, and we just wanted to come back and say thank you,” the officer replied.

“Yes… Thank you, sir. That was a very nice thing to do. We really appreciate it,” the other officer said.

“Well, I just wanted to say thanks to you guys for your service and for all you do,” the man said.

“Wow! If I’d have know you were buying, I would have gotten desert,” the first officer joked.

They all laughed, shook hands, the two officers exited, and the family went back to their meal. Several minutes later, I rose to leave and happened to find myself standing next to the man at the doorway.

“Excuse me for asking, but I overheard what you said back there to those officers. Do you know those guys?”

The man smiled at me and said, “Nope. Never met them before.”

“If you don’t mind me asking, why did you do that?” I asked.

“Those guys get a lot of bad press for doing a very, very difficult job,” he said. “I’ve had several friends who were policemen, and I have a great deal of respect for the job they do. I just figured buying their lunch was the least I could do to say ‘thank you for keeping us safe’. I wanted them to know that they are appreciated.”

He went on to tell me that, when he paid the manager, he told him he wanted it to be anonymous. However, it was a Asian restaurant, and the manager’s English was not very good, so his anonymity got “lost in translation” (as the officer said).

We hear a lot in the news about the negative stereotypes of “bad cops”. However, the overwhelming truth is that police officers are good men and women who have to carry out a tough job. In today’s media, deference is too often given to the perpetrator, and good officers are guilty until proven innocent — before facts are established, and before the truth can be ascertained.

In Romans 13, Paul writes…

For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same. For he is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil. Therefore you must be subject, not only because of wrath but also for conscience’ sake. For because of this you also pay taxes, for they are God’s ministers attending continually to this very thing. Render therefore to all their due: taxes to whom taxes are due, customs to whom customs, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor.

When we show respect and honor to those in authority, we have no reason to fear. Godly authority is there for our protection, in order for us to be allowed to live our lives in relative peace and safety. In the vast majority of stories I hear about violence involving police officers, those two things are always missing — respect and honor. Does that justify unwarranted “excessive force”? Not at all. But sadly, in the age of hostile news media, unfiltered social media, and “instant everything”, images mocking violence against police are posted online at lightning speeds, and only exacerbates how police feel they are being unjustly perceived, and magnifies a culture that has lost its moral compass, respect for authority, and reverence for God.

With all of the negative things we hear about police these days, and the repercussions that officers are experiencing with recent random attacks and killings, I wanted to share this positive story of good will. Actions have consequences, and all too often, we hear about the consequences of a random act of violence, or of a sequence of events that ends tragically…

It could be that the consequences of this random act of kindness are that a couple of officers spent the rest of the day feeling appreciated, and a father set a good example for his children.

It could also be that this story inspires someone reading it to go out and commit a random act of kindness today.