When I was a kid, I had an uncle tell me that he wished there was a news program that would come on after the evening news called “The Happy News.” On this show they would share news, the same style as the evening news, but it would all be happy positive things that were going on in the world. They’d share stories of triumph and joy. They’d point out the good in the world and share uplifting messages. Then he said, “To tell you the truth, I don’t know that anyone would watch it, but I’d watch it!”
That thought has kind of stuck with me. I thought of it today while I was driving back home from my family Thanksgiving festivities. As I was driving home through a side highway off of the interstate I saw a cow on the side of the highway. That’s typical, but it was outside of the fence and practically on the road! I panicked. I was on the opposite side away from it, but cars were coming towards it. I called my mom, because she’s called people before after we’ve seen cows running on the side of the interstate. She told me to call 911. I was driving, but this was an emergency and I was almost to the next small town. I noticed the mile marker and called 911.
The last time I called 911 I was 5 maybe, and I thought it would be fun to call and hang up a bunch of times. It was the only phone number I knew. I honestly thought the phone was unplugged, but turns out it wasn’t. A cop came to our house and I was told I’d get in big trouble if I did it again, so I never have. Luckily I haven’t needed to call.
A dispatcher picked up and I described the situation as I watched a semi-truck drive past me on the two lane highway at 65 MPH up the hill toward the cow. I tried to flash my lights at the driver to warn him, but it was the middle of the day. The dispatcher transferred me to a different dispatcher closer to the area where I was. As that was happening I passed the place where my sister rolled her car 4 months ago, and then I passed a cross placed by the side of the road where two of my friends passed away about 10 years ago. I talk about that in this blog The Dead Zone: How to Save a Life I thought of the people who came to the rescue of both accident scenes, and how grateful I was for those who were willing to stop and help.
I finally got on the phone and blurted out all of the information I was trying to remember in my mind: which highway, which mile marker, which direction. When I finished, she told me to calm down, slow down, and tell her again. So I did. I realized that when it comes to “fight or flight” I remembered there is a third option “freeze” which apparently I’m really good at. There wasn’t even an accident, but the thought of the possibility of one made me panic. I felt better knowing that my actions were hopefully preventing one from happening.
About an hour later I was on the interstate and noticed that there weren’t a lot of cops around, especially compared to previous Thanksgiving weekend. I slowed down just in case there was a cop. Just up ahead of me I saw a police car driving with its lights on. It was pulling someone over.
About 8 years ago if I saw someone who was pulled over I would think, “Ha! I’m glad it’s him and not me. How stupid could someone be to speed?” Well then one day I got pulled over after speeding in a city I wasn’t familiar with. I got a ticket and was so scared and embarrassed I cried the whole way home.
This time was different however. As I passed the highway patrol man I thought, “I really hope he doesn’t get shot. That cop has a family and loved ones.” I said a little prayer of safety for him. Then I felt awful for thinking that he’d possibly get shot. I had to tell myself that not everyone is a murderer and it was probably going to be just another normal day for him.
What has the media done to us? It’s saturated us with so many stories of awful things happening to us, that it becomes almost the norm instead of the exception. I thought of the song Hollywood's not America by Ferras. The song talks about a model that moves to California and changes her name. After a few years she feels lost and isn’t sure where to go. He tells her to go home and reminds her that “HOLLYWOOD IS NOT AMERICA.”
I then thought of a quote by Elder Boyd K. Packer. It’s seriously one of my favorite quotes of all time from a talk called Marriage given in April 1981.
“Some think that every marriage must expect to end in unhappiness and divorce, with the hopes and dreams predestined to end in a broken, sad wreck of things.
Some marriages do bend, and some will break, but we must not, because of this, lose faith in marriage nor become afraid of it.
Broken marriages are not typical.
Remember that trouble attracts attention! We travel the highway with thousands of cars moving in either direction without paying much attention to any of them. But should an accident occur, we notice immediately.
If it happens again, we get the false impression that no one can go safely down the road.
One accident may make the front page, while a hundred million cars that safely pass are not regarded as worth mentioning.
Writers think that a happy, stable marriage does not have the dramatic appeal, the conflict worth featuring in a book or a play or a film. Therefore, we constantly hear about the ruined ones and we lose our perspective.
I believe in marriage. I believe it to be the ideal pattern for human living.”
Isn’t it amazing! I think I love it so much because it’s so true! The first half is how I felt before I found this quote, and the second half is how I feel now. This quote comes back to me again and again.
I started thinking about what kind of interactions I’ve had with cops. I’ve always felt safer when they were around.
When I was 12, my parents went through a terrible divorce. I’m from a small town and so it felt like everyone got involved. My first real interaction with cops came after an altercation at my dad’s house when it was his weekend with us. Something happened and I called my mom because I was scared. I huddled with my little sisters in a room and she kept me on the phone while she called dispatch. I don’t remember all the details, but I think we stayed there until we heard a knock at the door. We had some other family there and someone loudly stated that “someone called the cops.”
A police officer came in and asked to talk to me, but I wouldn’t leave or talk to him until I knew another cop was there to be with my little sisters. I remember going down stairs with one of them so we could talk in private, but I felt suffocated and like the walls were listening. So instead we walked back outside and I stood on the corner bawling and telling him my story. Cars were passing by and I kept thinking, “This is so embarrassing, everyone is watching us as they drive by.” I didn’t care though, because I had this strong cop standing next to me, and for the first time in a long time I felt safe, heard, and understood.
After that incident, every time we were transferred from one parent to another the cops were called and they were there to “keep the peace.” They did just that. Was it always embarrassing? Yes. Did I care? No. Why? Because I felt safe, and I knew that they wanted what was best for us.
In a devotional I heard recently, the speaker said that every morning he wakes up and reads the newspaper so he’s aware and updated on current events. He then puts the paper away and doesn’t check the news again until the next morning. We are so saturated with news, that sometimes it’s hard to tell fabricated stories from reality.
I have some Happy News for you. I’m proud to be an American. America is a great nation and a great place to live. I’m so thankful to all of the service men and women who put their lives on the line every day so that I can be free. I’m grateful for those that are capable of running into a burning building when others are running out. I’m thankful for hard experiences that make us grow stronger as a person, as a people, and as a nation.
God Bless America