Thursday, September 14, 2006


People belong in groups. I'm about as much of a loner as you will find who can still function in society, but even loners have their groups.

Cops don't see race as much as most civilians seem to believe. Sure, it's a data point. But it's not a huge one- if I see a black kid slouching and sagging and wearing a specific color and looking at certain things, I put a name to the gang. Change the race and it just changes the name of the gang. The gang membership or the 'thug life' is a relevant classification, and far more important than the color of skin.

If I see a skinny toothless woman with bad skin dressed in easy-access clothes on a cold street corner trying to flag down car after car without any sense of urgency I'll assume, with a high degree of accuracy, that she's a crack whore if she's black and a meth whore if she's white. You never seem to find prostitution without addiction, but that's another subject.

And the white whore will have more in common with the black whore than she will ever have with a white school teacher or nurse.

In a lot of ways, it's the same with cops and crooks. I understand better and at certain levels get along better with criminals than I do with clerks or CPAs. For that matter, better than other officers who have spent their careers behind desks.

Even more so with cops and cops. There's an isolation of viewpoint. Victims are kept out of the news, but when you've seen the victims (even of victimless crimes) and you've seen the bad guys in their natural environments (something even judges and prosecutors rarely see) and you've literally risked your life to save one person who you would never want within a mile of your children from another person who is even worse... the people you can meaningfully share your world view with dwindles.

So it is with the team- skin color and gender and religion and political view point and.... are so meaningless beside the fact that I trust them absolutely with my back. Here's the test- you make entry, button hook left and see a door in your area of responsibility. You cover the door and you hear gunfire behind you. And you don't look. Because the team is trusting you to cover that door and you are trusting, absolutely, that the teammate responsible for the area the shots are coming from will stop the threat before he gets to you.

Not everyone sees the groups that they belong to. I don't think of myself as many of the things I get labeled as... but if you look at pictures of a seminar, you'll see me with the skeptical cops in the corner. If you see me at a Science Fiction convention (my wife drags me to one a year) I wind up with the scientists and the professional writers.

Conversely, some people see themselves as members of groups when who they are at the core something completely different. I see this most powerfully in people with an internal sense of control. People who set goals, work to control their own lives, make no excuses- I get along with them and understand them. People who wait for life to hand them the woman and job and house of their dreams, who would rather whine than work for their goals are alien to me.

To me the internal/external locus of control is one of the most definitive dividing lines... and yet I see many people with an internal locus of control who overcame great obstacles who feel such a kinship with the obstacles that they work and work and sweat and lecture and even bleed to help others overcome the same obstacles. And they never, ever see that the other person, no matter how much they want the obstacle to disappear will never do anything about it. With an external locus of control they are always victims, always passive always waiting for the universe to magically hand them what they deserve. The ILoC helper shows and guides and points... but the ELoC is waiting for more than that, waiting for the gift (which they will squander if they get).

Perhaps this is what makes a codependent partnership. One willing to give, the other merely unwilling to act.

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