I am in an Arena.
At least in the building.
I’m backstage, on the edge of the Court.
Watching a man go out to be arrested.
A former basketball player.
He was going to blow the place up.
I helped turn him in.
I’m hoping he forgives me.
That he knew what he was going to do was wrong.
And is glad someone stopped him.
But more than that.
I’m hoping he doesn’t feel alone.
That he doesn’t think I hate or despise him.
I want to understand him.
Why did want to do this?
I realize he is gay.
Or at least thinks he is.
Was part of this pent up sexual frustration?
Or perhaps misplaced father-figure rage
underlying the homosexuality?
I start to follow him out.
To help him feel not alone.
Perhaps even say goodbye.
But two agents grab me.
I’m worried they think I’m also a terrorist.
They think I’m an overzealous reporter.
Who selfishly snuck in to get a story.
They mock me as they hustle me down to a police car.
I try to explain.
I belong here.
Heck, I’m the only reason they are here.
I was trying to do a good thing.
To show humanity to a criminal.
But they are stuck in a narrative.
They are trapped in the comfortable tunnel vision of their job.
Once they Identify a “perp,” their training takes over.
Because doubt or gentleness could get them killed.
They aren’t cruel, exactly.
But they show no mercy.
They have learned to lock it away.
So they can survive their job.
I realize that deep within they have the same pain.
The same fear.
The same desperate loneliness.
As the would-be terrorist.
I am surprised to realize I don’t.
That is why I have compassion on them.
That is why I seek to understand them.
Not condemn them.
Even when they refuse to understand me.
I am annoyed.
But not afraid.
I know I am innocent.
They have no real power over me.
I am known to the Prosecutor I told about the terrorist.
Eventually they will have to bring me to Him.
Or let me go.
In the meantime, I wait patiently.
Maybe these agents need my compassion
And my companionship
Even more than the terrorist did.
And this way, they aren’t alone.