I suppose the title of this post is one people typically associate with police officers. Actually, it was said to me by a police officer once, after I'd been telling him about upcoming events I planned to attend for this blog. He expressed some concern about the possibility of burn-out, and jokingly said that the phrase "to serve and protect" wasn't meant to apply to bloggers - but I think I disagree. I think, in fact, that it applies to all of us.
I don't mean we all need to act as police officers. I mean that we, as citizens of our community, have some responsibilities. I mean that we all have a requirement to serve - to serve others in our community, and to serve our community. I mean that we all have a requirement to protect that same community, too.
This service and protection doesn't need to be a big deal. It doesn't need to be something we declare, or something we even talk about. In fact the people I've met in Fort Mac who do the most "serving and protecting" are the ones who talk about it least. They are the ones who volunteer for our local non-profit groups, from serving on the boards right to serving on the very front lines. They are the ones quick to take action to protect our community, whether it's by watching out for local children or writing letters to misguided media outlets. They are the ones shovelling the neighbour's sidewalk, and practicing random acts of kindness (like buying coffee for the person behind them in line). They are the ones working to improve the community in whatever way they can, often without pay or recognition. There are many aspects to serving and protecting - and we seem to have a lot of residents committed to all of them.
When we fail to serve and protect our community we begin to see rips and tears in the fabric. We begin to see troubling signs of people falling through the cracks, and we begin to see a community in distress. This can be even more worrisome in a city that is rapidly growing as the needs for service and protection grow quickly too, and can outpace those who can meet that need. There is something funny about Fort Mac, though. It seems whenever there is a need there is a rally to meet it. Someone, somewhere rises to meet the challenge, and inspires others. I've seen this again and again in this city, and this says something to me.
What this says to me is that this need to serve and protect is not just something I alone have recognized. I suspect not many others would necessarily voice it this way, they would just say they are doing what needs to be done - and they are. I would say, though, that they are fulfilling one of the greatest possible roles anyone can have in a community. They are providing service and protection, without ever having taken an oath to do so, and without ever giving it a second thought. And perhaps that's what makes it so special, too. Just like those police officers who serve and protect, often without even thinking about what they do and how incredible it is, our residents do the same thing. They may not see it as special, but I do. Frankly, I'm in awe of all of them, every single one. Just maybe that's what is really so special about this community, too. We have so many spectacular people in it, people who "just do what needs to be done", and who don't even realize how amazing they are. You know, it's a lot like this community. It's amazing, too - and I don't think it even realizes it.