Building Bridges #10
‘Oh, keep me from evil, that I may not cause pain!’
Just walking the dog one evening, minding my own business, I was shocked to witness illegal drug activity by several men as well as other criminal activity. Thinking of my family’s and neighbors’ safety, I immediately filed a report with the local law enforcement agency. They were already well-aware of the individuals in question and grateful for the report. Unfortunately, those involved with the criminal activity were aware of my report. They were not appreciative of the fact that they were observed and reported to local law enforcement. They proceeded to express that lack of appreciation by retaliating. This occurred almost nightly for the next 3 weeks. The retaliation escalated with each further incident including stalking, menacing, harassment, threats of violence to myself, and soliciting others to assist in carrying out their threats. I reported each incident, filing a report with local law enforcement each time, until, they finally threatened my spouse.
Law enforcement was seriously concerned. Even after they had approached and warned those retaliating, the individuals in question continued to escalate each incident. The threat of violence was becoming more and more real. Threatening me was one thing, I could ignore that. Our Home Owners’ Association employed private security and had just approved the installation of a new security camera system. Threatening my spouse however, was an altogether entirely different matter indeed. Law enforcement knew the individuals involved, and also knew they had a prior history of violent behavior. They strongly advised me to seek what is commonly known as an order of protection, no-contact order, restraining order, or order of injunction, due to repeated violence. They had approached my home, my vehicle, myself and my wife, blocking access to my community’s entrance/exit or access to my street several times.
I reluctantly filed for an order of injunction due to repeated violence. It was quickly granted as a temporary order. One week later, it was made a permanent injunction by a judge at a hearing. The judge found the excuses and reasoning for retaliation by the respondents lacking in credibility and without any merit, standing, or justification whatsoever.
It was amazing! From the moment the temporary order was served to those threatening my wife & I, all threatening and drug activity ceased. The majority of them fled the community as they weren’t residents, and the single resident of our neighborhood that had invited & participated in the drug and criminal activity into our community in the first place, as well as threatening us in retaliation, was now scrupulously obeying the judge’s order. After the injunction was made permanent, the judge had additional instructions for the offender, and made it explicitly clear that any further threats, stalking, menacing, and/or soliciting others to do the same would be dealt with harshly. This is now an opportunity for the individual to seek help for the addictions driving their behavior. That is my hope.
Our local law enforcement agency being from a *very* small community was and remains more than happy to enforce the judge’s order. My wife, neighbors and I are once again able to enjoy each other’s company & community without fear of threats, intimidation, or violence. All of this happened due in large part to action and a concerned community. Having previously been on the receiving end of criminal behavior, I am aware, daily, that no matter what happens, we all walk in eternity. Even if someone intends their actions for evil and harm does come to me or someone I love, Love will and does, turn it into good. This is the power of love.
I am no better than anyone else, and no worse than anyone else, including those that seek to harm myself, my family, my friends or others. Some people have no desire whatsoever to change or let themselves be changed into something better. However, I like many men I know, desire to be better men. We wish to become better men, not only through our own efforts, but learning and practicing how to let love and goodness accomplish something better than anything we could come up with on our own as men. My hope is that evil is kept from us, so that we don’t cause others pain.
I encourage you, no matter where you live, no matter what you’ve done, no matter what has been done to you, to seek love’s way, with others willing to both be held accountable, and to hold others accountable. If you’re in Orlando, don’t be afraid to man up, step up, listen up, ask how to be a better man, and learn. If you don’t live near Orlando, you can do so with a local group of men near you – anytime – not just during a special event. Am I a better man? No, but love can make me one. Want to be a better man? Then love.