The author of today’s post is a police chief who wishes to remain unnamed. It was written a few days ago, after dinner.
It is 10:20pm and I have just gotten home after attending a Ramadan Banquet in my official capacity as Chief of Police.
In talking with the FBI ahead of time, I learned they were at this banquet last year. They told me about the composition of the group, what the event commemorates, what type of food will be served, that I will be expected to speak to the attendees and they warned me that the men and women are separated into two different rooms.
I thought to myself, “Hmmm…. I wonder if they know I’m a girl??”
I arrived as the Imam was just finishing leading the men in prayers. Some of the men walked by me without saying a word. Others stared at me, so conspicuous in my police Class A uniform; long sleeve and tie, gunbelt on.
Finally, my contact came out and greeted me. I was seated at a table marked “reserved,” along with the Imam and other officers for the board of their mosque.
In opening remarks, one Board Officer talked about their small community of 300 families and how they had finally secured a building to serve as their new mosque. When he called me up to speak, I looked out into the crowd and felt certain that all 300 families were represented there. Their presence spoke to strength of community; a powerful bond.
Before I left, the Board Officer asked me to go to the other room where the women were waiting for me. I walked in and was immediately mauled by a group of girls all around the age of 5. They hugged me, sat on my lap, touched my badge, and asked me if I had super powers.
As I said my goodbyes and walked towards my car, I thought how (with a few modifications, of course) this could have been an Easter dinner at my Church to celebrate Jesus’ resurrection and the end of Lent.
I reflected on the power of community, regardless of the deity one worships. I remembered that groups of people share similar dynamics, no matter what underlying beliefs drive them.
And, as so many of us in this Homeland Security enterprise are public servants first and foremost, I personally reaffirmed my oath of office to serve and protect those in my community.
Remembering that what drives one group of people is not so different than what drives another, helps to safeguard the good and eradicate the bad.