God's Politics

God's Politics

Christine Mihevc: Policeman Saves Local Peace Witness

As part of the Christian Peace Witness for Iraq, more than 200 local vigils were organized around the U.S. – plus Canada and the U.K. – to coincide with the D.C. service, march, and vigil at the White House. This is an account of one of those local vigils:

I, along with four others from our congregation, attended the Christian Peace Witness Vigil in a northwest suburb of Chicago. It was hosted by Don R., who felt he needed to do more than gripe about the war in Iraq.

Don and I, strangers before the vigil event, worked together via e-mail to prepare an order of worship for Friday evening. I spent more time than I had planned working on the service and making signs.

When the time came to drive to the event, I felt a tremendous sense of trepidation and anxiety. I was worried about the logistics of the vigil, but my real concern was the possibility of police interference or hecklers. I am brave and vocal about peace in the confines of my home or my peace church. Once I leave these places of sanctuary, I’m more like Peter before the cock crows.

When I got to the parking lot where I’d leave my car before I took the short walk bearing large peace signs down the sidewalks of a well-to-do suburb, I prayed yet again. In all my nervousness, I closed and locked the door of my car – with my keys tucked away in my backpack, which was resting on the passenger seat.

I never do things like this.

I thought I was going to pass out, peering into my car window, seeing the copies of the order of worship and freshly-made signs trapped on the other side. I did panic for a while, until I accepted the reality that I needed to seek help – of all people, I needed to call the police.

I went into a family-run movie theater around the corner and they called the police for me. The young officer worked incredibly hard to jimmy the lock, all the while apologizing for scratching up my 95′ Dodge Caravan. All I could think was, “I need to be at a vigil in five minutes, and please, officer, don’t look in the back seat and read my signs.” He left after I showed some I.D., and I grabbed my things and rushed to vigil for the rest of the evening with my fellow Christian peace witnesses.

I wanted to share this story because of all nights, of all people, I had to call for the presence of the police when I was so dreading this specific possibility on this specific night. I was humbled by the lesson I was taught; I was the man lying beside the road and a Samaritan helped me. I didn’t want him to be my neighbor, but God made him one. And in that epiphany, my anxiety over the evening was replaced with humility. I prayed for peace with others huddled against the cold, warmed by the complete confidence that God was near.

Christine Mihevc is a member of Christ Community Mennonite Church in Schaumburg, Illinois.

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posted March 27, 2007 at 4:41 pm

This is going to sound harsh, but I believe it is illustrative. Why did you choose to call the police? There are many other ways to get into a locked car, most obviously, by calling a locksmith. So why the cops? Because its free. Hmmm… But its not. The taxpayers foot the bill for the cops, and what you just did was to appeal to the state to do for you something you could have done for yourself, by paying a locksmith. You have further empowered the state by appealing to its coercive powers instead of taking full responsibility for the cost of your mistake upon yourself. Anytime we look to a coercive entity to do for us what we could do for ourselves we forfeit liberty and dignity. Your insurance company would probably have paid for the pop-a-lock for you! Nathanael Snow

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posted March 27, 2007 at 7:04 pm

So, we have a young protester who feared the police, only to discover that police officers can be professionals too. I’d like to know how Ms. Mihevc came to think of law enforcement as a threat, and why. Wolverine

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posted March 27, 2007 at 7:20 pm

Oh! I share the sentiment that agencies licensed to employ force against individuals according to an arbitrary code are threatening. If all law were derived consistently from the Natural Law (juris naturalis) then I would not fear the likelihood that I might break a law I did not know existed. What bothers me is that instead of assuming the cost of opening her locked car door herself she imposed it indirectly upon the taxpayers. She might have thrown a brick through her window to get in if she were in a rush, and then paid for a new window. Instead she taxed the rest of us through a coercive agency. Not exactly consistent with the Mennonite ethic.

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Elmer Gantry

posted March 27, 2007 at 9:41 pm

Christine, that’s a nice story. Ignore the “Martha-like” sour grapes people who have to find fault with everything.

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posted March 27, 2007 at 9:45 pm

Not trying to be sour, just working, like Derek Webb says towards a Consistent Christian Ethic…

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posted March 27, 2007 at 11:20 pm

Christine-As a thirty-four year law enforcement officer, I have a few comments. First, I’m glad that the officer was able to get you into your car. In these days of side-airbags, most police agencies no longer allow their officers to attempt it. Officers, and firefighters, have been seriously injured when the airbags deploy. In other words, a mundane “call for service” has attached to it an element of danger…something many people outside my profession never consider. Second, I don’t find it offensive that your attitude about the police is stereotypical. I’ve heard it all too many times before to be upset by it. My only comment to you is that the next time you need assistance and call the police, be a little more circumspect in your attitude towards the officer. Don’t assume that we are all ultra-conservative, heavy-handed, or bear some grudge towards anti-war sentiments. Many of us are combat veterans, and have no patience with war or it’s proponents. Third, I grow tired of complaints about “using the taxpayers” to take care of a personal problem. Who of you has NEVER locked your keys in your car, needed help and called the police or the fire dept? Stop being so self-righteous! Your tax dollars are going to better use in this circumstance than in thousands of others…pick any page of the Federal budget for an example! Some officers deserve the stereotypes…as do others in other professions. Most of us are hard working, and provide services at the cost of a few pennies which “privatization” would provide for dollars, or not at all. And, we’re proud to do so. Pray for those who protect YOU, that God will protect THEM!

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kevin s.

posted March 28, 2007 at 3:30 am

Many police officers are conservative. Many are pro-war. None will arrest you for having a peace sign. To think otherwise is absurd.

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posted March 28, 2007 at 4:07 am

Has this “Christian witness for peace” ever thought of actually taking all of these rabble rousing neo-hippies that makeup its Marxist membership of ranting and raving activists in the western societies, and SEND THEM TO IRAQ? Why the need to fight for the Iraqi insurgents in America, Canada and the U.K.? Jihadists are just as happy killing us here as in Iraq.Ever thought of trying to protest the right people? Don’t want to be beheaded huh?

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Rick Nowlin

posted March 28, 2007 at 4:27 am

Many police officers are conservative. Many are pro-war. None will arrest you for having a peace sign. To think otherwise is absurd. Tell that to war protesters, some of them abused by police, in my city.

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posted March 28, 2007 at 5:16 am

I’m proud of you for going to your peace vigil. It does take guts to get out of our comfort zone and actually DO SOMETHING. When I think of the 300 who were arrested on the same night in front of the White House, I can understand why you had some fear. Whenever we follow Jesus into uncharted territory, we have trepidation and fear. But I tell myself, He will never leave me or forsake me. Let’s keep being a witness for the Prince of Peace.

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kevin s.

posted March 28, 2007 at 7:39 am

“Tell that to war protesters, some of them abused by police, in my city.” Abused how?

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posted March 28, 2007 at 12:53 pm

Hey, all my comments above were meant to be illustrative. I, too, support you for going to and helping to organize the vigil. As I’ve said elsewhere, there’s too much apathy around. Good on ‘ya! Nathanael Snow

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Rick Nowlin

posted March 28, 2007 at 5:19 pm

Abused how? Verbally and in some cases physically.

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Jason Cook

posted March 30, 2007 at 12:22 am

I was a police for 15 years and I can understand why some people have ill sentiments regarding the profession. As for most police being conservative and pro-war that is subjective. Some are abusive, but so are other people. People who have disdain for police generally look through a very narrow lens. It is easy to forget that we comfort victims of rape and violence, perform emergency first aid, unlock car doors at malls, take care of abused children, and mediate (make peace) between hostile spouses and citizens, and then get spit on and assaulted. Some do want peace, because it would make things much easier.

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posted March 30, 2007 at 7:02 am

Thanks for showing the other side. I have had too many negative experiences w/ cops to be fully fair or balanced in my assesment. I appreciate the work you all do. It’s not easy. p

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posted March 30, 2007 at 2:39 pm

Beautiful story! I guess I will someday realize that some people can find a negatvie aspect in anything. I was amazed when I opened up the responses here. How could anybody find fault with this story? The comparison with the Good Samaritan is excellent. It is an example of “All things work together for good to those who love the Lord and are called according to his purposes.” She learned humility through the situation. It did not cost the taxpayers one red cent. The policeman did not get extra pay for opening her car door. I learned someting ,too. I did not know that I could call a policeman to open my car door. I will do so next time. So, get on my case for using your tax money!

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