What is a friend? The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a friend as: one

Travis Naughton

by Travis Naughton

attached to another by affection or esteem; an acquaintance; one that is not hostile; one that is of the same nation, party, or group. Dictionary.com adds that a friend is: a person who gives assistance; a person who is on good terms with another. In those regards, I have a lot of friends. So do you, I’d imagine.

Several of my friends are police officers. No, I don’t routinely ask them to come over and jam out on my homemade musical instruments, nor have I been invited to go on any ride-alongs, but they are my friends nevertheless because I hold them in esteem, I appreciate the assistance they give, and I am on good terms with them.

Here in Ashland, we are lucky to have an outstanding police force manned by good people and led by Chief Woolford, whose daughter and son-in-law (who is also a police officer) I have considered close friends for over a decade.

Deputy Sheriff Trevor Fowler, Southern Boone’s school resource officer is a friend to our community, too, even though we must overlook the unfortunate fact that he lives in Hallsville. There are several other county deputies and state troopers who call our area home as well, and I absolutely regard as friends those whom I have met. While these members of law enforcement put their lives on the line every day to keep me safe, I have the privilege of teaching their children in school. We are members of the same community. We are friends.

I have a fair amount of friends who are black, too. (Some also happen to be cops.) Over the years I’ve had black bandmates, black schoolmates, and black teammates whom I consider more than mere acquaintances. Although we don’t spend much time together in person, we do manage to keep in touch via social media. We hold each other in esteem, and we are on good terms with one another. I’ve been honored to be asked to solemnize the weddings of black friends in the Ashland area, and I’ve had the joy of teaching the precious children of local black families. We are members of the same community. We are friends.

Black lives matter. Blue lives matter. Members of both groups are under fire—literally—and as a member of the same nation and the same community as my black and blue friends, the violence and hatred directed at them breaks my heart. A friend of mine, whose husband is a state trooper, recently said that she prays her children won’t want to become cops when they grow up. Imagine the fear she lives with every single day when her husband leaves for work in the morning. Now imagine the fear the mother of a young black male feels, too. Heartbreaking.

While it is true that all lives matter, it seems that all-too-often in our society black lives and blue lives are treated like they don’t matter as much. Perhaps if we reminded ourselves that we are all members of the same nation, the same community, then we would begin to feel attached to one another. Rather than being hostile towards each other, we could give assistance. We could hold each other in esteem and strive to be on good terms with one another. In other words, maybe we could just try being friends.