Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor. Romans 13:7
During the stress of COVID-19 in the past year, we have, as a society, become more aware of the insidious effects of this stressful year on our collective mental health. In particular, there are some professions which have suffered a great deal. In fact, people in these professions have always suffered from the trauma inflicted upon them by their work, but the past year has been a scourge for them in particular. I know them well, because my kids are in these professions- medicine and law enforcement.
People in these professions are always on call, ready to provide safety and life-saving measures. In so doing, they put themselves in harm’s way for society. We take for granted that we can call the police when there is trouble, or we can be taken to the Emergency Room when we face a life-threatening situation.
By virtue of their positions, medical and law enforcement professionals encounter people experiencing the worst times of their lives. When people are going through such times, they often lash out at the first person they see- even the ones who are trying to help. People in these life-saving professions become lightning rods for behavior that is unseemly or even out of control. Yet, these professionals who serve people must be IN control, rendering help to those who may not, or cannot, appreciate it at the time.
The cost? It is high. Constantly being on the stress grid, awaiting the next crisis; chronic hypervigilance to the environment, they are victims of PTSD by definition. All these things lead to a type of burnout that can be deadly. Suicide rates in these professions are higher than I want to think about. But maybe the hardest thing for me to swallow as a parent is seeing that the stress and suffering of these professions are often more or less taken for granted. Sometimes people even blame the healers and protectors for the woes they suffer themselves.
So, I think of Jesus who was sent to the death of shame on the cross, and while he was suffering for the sins of mankind, he was jeered and tortured. I am not suggesting exact equivalency of suffering here. Just that we take for granted the sacrifices made on our behalf by law enforcement and front-line medical workers.
Yes, I have skin in the game because I am concerned for my kids. But really, we all have skin in this game. We rely upon those professions- and many more- for our safety and well-being. Maybe a kind word and thoughtful responses from the media might help too. Law enforcement professionals in particular are suffering from media scrutiny that only adds to their sense of scorn and disrespect. Let’s also give honor where honor is due…
Prayer: Lord, thank you for those who serve us and pay the price for their service, Amen