A Weekly Column
By Joseph Walker

But First A NOTE From The Editor: Joseph's column really moved me this week. His work is always outstanding but this week's article made me question why any of us is doing what we do. The answer I found in my own heart is that it must come from within. I wish that for all you... that no matter what it is you do in your lives that you are doing it because you are driven to do so from within yourselves and through your personal connection with Divine Guidance. A special thanks to Joseph Walker for really making me think - and feel the important things in life.



This isn't supposed to happen.

The good guys don't die. They may get hurt occasionally. They may even spend a little time in the hospital now and then. But in the end they always pull through, and like Sir Launfall of ancient legend, "rise and fight again."

Don't they?

Evidently not. Here in our community, one of the good guys-a police officer-died in the line of duty last week. Not too long ago a local fire fighter suffered a similar fate. These things aren't supposed to happen. And yet they do-with alarming frequency. Or at least, they happen often enough to remind us that there are heroic men and women in our communities who put their lives on the line in our behalf every day. And there are families who send them off to do our public business, knowing deep in the back of their minds that each good-bye may be the last.

Why do they do it? What drives them?

Certainly it isn't the money. For some reason that I've never really understood, contemporary society doesn't value those who protect and serve-at least, not like we value those who entertain us. According to my rough calculations (and believe me, any time I start playing with numbers, the results are going to be rough), the amount of money that is paid each year to one all-star caliber power forward in the NBA could pay the annual salaries of more than 600 police officers or fire fighters.

I'm no social scientist. I don't know what that means. It probably has to do with free enterprise and public sector funding as much as it has to do with the relative merits of standing up to drug dealers and arsonists as opposed to taking a hard charge from Shaquille O'Neal-and believe me, that's not a discussion you're going to hear here. It just seems out of whack to me.

Nor are society's guardians honored and revered for the role they play in keeping our neighborhoods safe. Nobody asks for their autographs, nobody flocks to the mall when they make a public appearance. Instead, we complain when the performance of their duty inconveniences us. We bicker publicly about providing more money for better salaries, training and equipment. We call them names-most of them unpleasant. And then we wonder why they never seem to be around when you need them.

No, the reasons for choosing a career as a law enforcement officer or a fire fighter have little to do with money or fame or glory. It isn't about security, or prestige, or respect or any of the other things that motivate so many of us in the selection of our life's work. In fact, it may be difficult for some who are bottom-line driven to understand why anyone would choose a career fraught with so much frustration, sacrifice and risk, and so few substantive rewards.

The best answer, it seems to me, was expressed during last week's funeral for our fallen police officer. Said his brother: "Michael just liked to help people."

It's probably that simple-and that complex. Every day men and women all around the world put their lives on the line at jobs for which they receive precious little compensation beyond the satisfaction that comes from doing something for someone else. That's what motivates them. And for that, we should all be thankful.

Especially when things happen that aren't supposed to happen.

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--- © Joseph Walker


Look for Joe's book, "How Can You Mend a Broken Spleen? Home Remedies for an Ailing World." It is available on-line through and