Editor’s note: The following is reprinted from February 2010.

I once heard a man say that when he was a boy and on into his early adult years, he thought that his father was incredibly ignorant, but as he and his father grew older, he was amazed at how intelligent the old man had become. It is a fact, maybe good or maybe not so good, that as life moves on and the young grow up and the old grow older, many things change, including the ways in which things are done. It brings to mind an old saying, “It’s a young man’s world.”

As people grow older, their strength, drive, enthusiasm and quickness begin to weaken, and this usually causes their values to maybe change somewhat. It’s like a huge old oak in the forest. Its sprawling limbs and roots are holding back a number of young trees that are trying to grow but are stunted and small. If the big oak is blown over in a storm or if it is cut down, all of those young trees begin to develop rapidly.

The same is true with us humans. Older people who have run the show for so many years oftentimes, even most of the time, need to get out of the way, move over a bit and hand the reins over to the younger crowd. You see, we older guys don’t realize that the young generation has become, in some ways, smarter than we are. They have developed and invented gadgets, machinery and other devices that are largely unfamiliar to us.

There’s nothing wrong with that, and it’s a good thing for them to want to grow and develop their ways and ideas, as long as they do it in honorable, decent and unselfish way. The wise young potential business executive will do well to incorporate his youthful enthusiasm with the proven knowledge of the old CEO, and it behooves him or her to assume the leadership in a respectful and appreciative manner, often consulting with the old guy on important decisions.

I’ve said all of this leading up to telling about a good friend of mine. His name was Hamp and he was a policeman in a town where I was stationed for several years when I was in the military service. Hamp had been a cop for many years when I met him. He was from the old school, back when criminals were considered bad guys. He never referred to thieves, murderers, robbers and rapists as “sir” or “gentleman.” Yet he didn’t abuse or mistreat anyone, either. Hamp and I thought alike when it came to criminals. I personally believe that when a robber comes into a store or home and points a gun at a clerk or resident, he should forfeit all rights afforded honest people, and he deserves anything that happens to him as a consequence of his actions. I also strongly believe that a pedophile who kidnaps and/or murders a young child should never again breathe a breath of free air. Every time one of them is set free, wherever he goes, every child is in grave danger. 

One afternoon I was driving down a street on the edge of town. All of a sudden I was stopped at a crime scene in progress. There was a small white house completely surrounded by cars with blue lights flashing. Law enforcement guys were crouched behind the vehicles, guns drawn and pointed at the house. There were city police, highway patrolmen, sheriff’s deputies and a number of unmarked cars surrounding the house. One policeman was talking through a bull horn, telling some man named Joe inside the house to come out with his hands up.

The standoff continued for the better part of an hour, and I don’t know how long it had been going on before I got there. But it was about to come to an end.

An officer with a big gun that could fire a tear gas canister was aiming it at a front window. A deputy sheriff beside me said that it was quite possible the tear gas grenade would set the house on fire, and that if the man inside ran out with a gun in his hand he would be shot multiple times. He said that they knew he had a shotgun.

Just before the officer could fire the tear gas gun, my friend, the policeman named Hamp, arrived at the scene. Probably he was off duty that day and heard about the standoff. I learned later that Hamp knew the man named Joe holed up inside. In fact, they were good friends.

Hamp walked up the front steps, opened the door and went inside. Less than a minute later he came out holding Joe by the arm with one hand and carrying Joe’s shotgun in his other hand. The incident was over. It could have ended much worse. I felt good for Hamp. He was a real hero.

But guess what? A few days later, Hamp was severely disciplined and suspended from duty for a while. Seems somebody high up considered his action dangerous. It goes back to what I said about time changing the way things are done.