Taking the Plunge into Systemic Reform … an Inevitable and Overdue End to Sameness
Norman E. Taylor
Editor-in-Chief, Journal of Community Safety and Well-Being
Does anyone remember where they were, what they were doing, and what various trivialities they may have been musing about on September 10, 2001?
I have long been fascinated by such dates in history. Consider also November 8, 1989; April 3, 1968; November 21, 1963; and for some, even December 6, 1941 and early in October, 1929. What these dates share in common is a relative obscurity, relative at least to the profound schisms the world and our collective worldviews would experience in mere hours hence.
In our current 2020 reality, it is still too soon to narrow this down to precise hours and dates, although May 25 is one close contender, March 11 another, and pray tell, November 3 (plus or minus) just might be the next. It won’t be lost on my fellow Canadians and our broader global readership that all of these dates bear a decidedly American nature. But let’s face it, for much of the past century, that particular elephant has taken over a lot of rooms.
This next paragraph might seem like a betrayal of my long-held discipline to not comment directly on another country’s politics. I promise it is not so intended. Rather, the elephant is again flexing its global significance, and the next sounds we hear will no doubt echo around the world once more. Today, in what struck me as one of the most profoundly delusional and politically self-destructive Tweets to date, the current President said, “The Fake News Media is riding COVID, COVID, COVID, all the way to the Election. Losers!”
Dear lord! Almost 240,000 of his own citizens, and globally, well over a million, have “ridden COVID-19” all the way to the morgue, with many, many others already facing potentially life-long and as yet unknown health complications. When combined with his debate-night “Stand back, and stand by” dog whistle call to violent white supremacist groups, surely this must qualify as some sort of absolute nadir in political discourse, anywhere. Surely it reflects the most toxic devolution yet seen in the self-serving individualism that has shaped much of the infamous American personality, at its worst. And make no mistake, while that is an American caricature, decidedly unfair to many I have come to know and respect, it is also a cultural norm that is widely emulated elsewhere, and one which has similarly infected much of the prevailing social attitude in Canada and in countries around the world.
One can only assume that if we were able to hop into our own DeLorean and deliver the next day’s news on any of the dates noted above, there is one common viewpoint we would discover: “We knew it was bad, but we didn’t know how bad it was getting.”
Three years ago, in our Journal Vol. 2(3), I authored a piece titled Policing & CSWB in Canada: The Next 50 Years. My piece was built upon contributions from some very progressive thinkers, and there was indeed some prescient vision throughout. But, as I revisit it now through a 2020 lens, I can’t help thinking it could have been written on any day much like September 10, 2001. There is an underlying current of sameness in that paper, and I daresay, in most similar contributions to recent policing, CSWB, and public health discourse, that can no longer be ignored.
As one sage colleague recently put it, one way or another, we are very soon to wake up to a new age. If the current US administration survives to take another term, only the imagination limits the possible and disturbingly seismic shifts in that nation, and by extension, the damage from its exported reverberations around the globe. If instead, there is a change in the administration, surely an urgent and wide-reaching period of recovery, healing and lasting social reform must be the clarion call we will hear in its first 100 days.
Either way, our Journal team has concluded that we cannot continue to contemplate change from a comfortable starting point in which ample doses of sameness serve to dull our senses, and as we all continue to merely dip our toes into the lukewarm waters of minor, incremental adjustment.
This year, our future has become an icy cold reality. We must be ready to take the plunge. Here we go.
From the Publisher:
Lastly, we are excited to announce that the Journal will continue its partnership with the Global Law Enforcement and Public Health Association (GLEPHA). The Journal will be an official publication of LEPH2021 conference, which is being held virtually March 22-24 2021.