“Few are born bold. Even Napoleon had to cultivate the habit on the battlefield, where he knew it was a matter of life and death. In social settings, he was awkward and timid, but he overcame this and practice boldness in every part of his life because he saw its tremendous power, how it could literally enlarge a man(even one who, like Napoleon, was in fact conspicuously small).”
― Robert Greene,
The Thorold Tunnel
My exposure to the police has been limited, and for the most part, I have found officers of the law cordial and polite. Border guards and airport security personnel are an exception to this rule, but that is another story.
Why does a uniformed government agent bother me?
I find it intimidating when a human is given the authorization to use force, by a legal entity I have never met, nor do I inherently trust.
Is that a recipe for anxiety?
Interacting with the public must be a difficult profession. Law Enforcement Officers do not make the rules, and how they feel about the law should have no bearing on job performance.
Was I being reckless by exceeding the speed limit?
After I rounded the corner I knew I’d been caught. The posted speed limit is 80 km/hr, but the safest way to travel is to follow the herd.
Since I got caught I try to travel the “correct” speed.
Cars swerve around me on the corner.
What is the lesson learned?
I do not believe that the regional government intentionally lowers the speed limit to generate revenue, but rather, laws are designed to ensure public safety.
The problem is that any reduction in the posted speed limit creates an opportunity for a speed trap.
The police know it. That’s why they wait.
It’s not rocket science.
Is there a quota for speeding tickets? I don’t know.
However, if it was really about keeping the speed down it would be far more effective to install a photo radar system, which would be far safer and cheaper than a cruiser. I don’t think those systems are popular.
When I passed the cruiser, I could see the car stir.
Like a hawk chasing a rabbit, I noticed the cruiser swing into traffic and then speed up to pull in behind me. No flashing lights, just a short journey through the Thorold Tunnel with a cop on my ass.
Was the officer trying to intimidate me?
Through practice, I have learned to not to get bent out of shape when a vehicle speeds up behind and follows too close. Given the first opportunity, I change lanes and give way.
Unfortunately, in a tunnel, there is no place to go except forward.
I knew the drill, I’d seen many other vehicles pulled over in the exact same location prior to this, as I am quite familiar with this section of highway, it’s my preferred route home.
During the brief interlude before getting pulled over, I asked myself why do the police make me nervous?
I’m not criminal.
I do have a contempt for corrupt politics. My direct experience with the government has been inefficiency, poor customer service, and no public responsibility.
It’s a deep mistrust.
I fear that although I have been a good citizen, there is always going to be a contact point where I infringe upon a confusing set of rules. When a rule gets broken the watchdogs will get me.
It’s only a matter of time.
These are my opinions and projections of the situation, but I still wonder if there is truth to them? Why should I trust the government and law enforcement when they are clearly human?
In this case, it appears the officer has flexibility on how to do the job, and discretion where to focus attention. Are citizens entitled to the same freedom to interpret regulations?
The law does not allow for interpretation or flexibility.
Wouldn’t this system provide an opportunity for humans to gain power over others?
When the officer walked up to my window he asked me a simple question as to why I was speeding. When I admitted I wasn’t paying attention. He asked me, “So you don’t have a story?”
The question seemed innocent but I was caught off guard.
By telling a story I think that says I am pleading guilty — so why should I engage?
I was traveling faster than the limit, but I felt very comfortable rounding the corner.
I was feeling like a mouse gripped by the talons of a hawk. Cats play with their food, but normally, would a hawk ask the mouse if they had a reason why they should be let go?
Life Is Not Fair
After he runs my license and registration, he issues me a reduced ticket based on a clean driving record.
I thank him for his leniency.
Robert Green’s 48 Laws of power is one of the classic books on the subject of power struggles, I cannot say that I understand it. Whether I agree or disagree, the book clearly shows that there’s a blueprint.
How does the weak overcome the powerful?
Robert describes many strategies, and however effective they are, I have found an old Chinese philosophy to be far more attractive.
Tai Chi Chuan
Deep down I have always been afraid to stand up to the playground bully. This initially led me to learn Karate and watch many UFC matches, which in turn allowed me to gain an appreciation of the martial arts around the world.
I still enjoy seeing a smaller guy overcome the tough guy.
Call it a keen sense of justice.
Lingering in the foreground, Tai chi chuan promises that Yin will overcome Yang, and thus, a charging bull can be thrown and defeated.
All struggle generates tension and the Chinese call muscular exertion “li.”
Tai Chi Chuan principles guide the players to be “Song.” When the body is “Song” tension has been released. The western translation is relaxation, however, I believe this meaning is misleading.
Maybe it’s magical thinking, but I still believe Tai Chi offers the answer to the power struggle I am describing. Now I’m not naive enough to believe everything I see on YouTube. However, I have seen a few demonstrations that I cannot explain.
Enter The Dojo
Here’s a brief transcription from a YouTube video with Adam Mizner that illustrates the fundamental qualities of Tai chi chuan:
…in other words, I have stick adhered, join, follow. It’s not me trying to trick your balance ok? Now you are going left, now you are going right, this is external tai chi practice. Like most people think push hands practice is a balance game. No. The internal quality makes you lose your kung fu. you understand? You can feel the difference. you feel perfectly solid, everything is ok. Makes no difference to me. No difference at all. If we have to trick their balance, this is counterfeit tai chi. Genuine tai chi the jin will overcome their “li” even if they are perfectly balanced.
Am I missing something here? Adam’s understanding of Tai Chi Chuan demonstrates there is more to the universe than scientific materialism.
One Straw Revolution
How does a tree extract gallons of water from the ground and distribute it to its branches without any pumps or electricity? How does a tree convert the energy of the sun into growth?
Some of the ways that energy flows through our natural environment are not visible to the naked eye, but philosophies like Permaculture have powerful ways of explaining it.
These questions seem to fall outside my narrative of the speeding ticket, however, my understanding of martial arts begins to prepare me for life surprises.
The universe presents questions to be answered in multifaceted ways.
My daily interactions with these energies are the fun and confusing part of being human with a lifetime to learn.