File this one under “random acts of kindness.” An Emmett Township, Michigan, police officer demonstrates the road to a free society: charity, not coercion.
On a routine traffic stop, Officer Ben Hall noticed a 5-year-old passenger was not in a child restraint. Her mother knew she was breaking the law, but she explained she simply could not afford to buy a car seat at the moment. What happened next was a big surprise:
“When I spoke to [DeLorenzo], she was very forthcoming and knew that the child should be in a booster seat,” Officer Hall told FOX 17 News. “She admitted that she was wrong and that she had recently fallen on hard times.”
Instead of ticketing DeLorenzo, Officer Hall told her to meet him at a nearby Walmart so he could buy a booster seat for her daughter.
“It was the easiest 50 bucks I ever spent,” said Officer Hall. “It’s something that anybody in the same position, in our position, would do.”
Hall explained, “I was in a spot where I could help her.”
It is not told whether Mr. Hall is Christian or not, but his actions are a good example of the teaching of Scripture:
Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it. Do not say to your neighbor, “Go, and come again, tomorrow I will give it”—when you have it with you (Prov. 3:27–28).
Hall added what should be obvious to everyone: “A ticket doesn’t solve the situation. What solves it is the child being in the booster seat like she should be.”
These two ideas together give us a glimpse of the scriptural view of a free society: coercion doesn’t solve the situation; charity solves the situation.
Confrontations, fines, bullying, threats, inquisitions, searches, detentions, invasions, confiscations, surveillance—all of which can be summarized under the headings of legalized violence and theft—do not solve the vast majority of problems pervading society, yet which are found criminal in various ways and details, and penalized every day.
This traffic stop could have easily ended with a fine or worse. Perhaps CPS could even have been alerted and further problems created for the mother. All kinds of anguish and oppression could have resulted—according to the law—and any afflicting agent could have walked away assuring him- or herself they had upheld the common good of society. Yet it would have been evil and unnecessarily so.
And the truth is that just about anyone, anytime can be the victim of such a scenario. If it’s not child restraint laws, it can be any of a myriad of moving or non-moving violations—and that’s just the traffic code. There are a thousand other sections of code that can get you.
As the detective in this now-famous lecture explains, you are guilty of something:
Are any of you guilty of anything? How many of you drove here today? Anybody go above 55 on the interstate? Anybody driving home and go above 55 on the interstate? . . .
Everybody does something they can get in trouble for. . . . When I was a police officer, a uniform, I could follow a car however long I needed to, and eventually they’re going to do something illegal, and I can pull them over—and justifiably illegal to pull them over.
This is not good; this is an evil. Our legal system is not a safeguard of liberty, but a complex and inescapable revenue-generation system designed in part to keep its agents funded by the revenue it generates. A modicum of true criminal justice remains within it almost as a byproduct, but average people live under constant threat, fear, and coercion at every moment as well.
What happened in this case, however, was a good and not an evil. Someone, perhaps even underserving, perhaps even justifiably illegal, was in need, and another person was in a position to do good. That person was an armed agent of the system who could have, justifiably, imposed further affliction, but he did rightly. He withheld the evil and did not withhold the good.
Now, if we can follow Gary DeMar’s suggestion—which is the way of biblical law—and find a way to run the entire system of justice on voluntary payments instead of coerced taxes, we would truly be on the path to a free society. DeMar writes,
Police and fire protection could be financed through a service fee, similar to insurance premiums. . . . A fund could be established by neighborhood charity agencies and church groups to help those unable to pay the fee (God and Government, 2012, pp. 324, 326).
When we begin to think like this once again, we can make some progress and solve situations. Officer Hall’s act of kindness is a small step in that direction, and a small ray of light pointing to a better path that begs us to walk it, if we only will.