Detective Edward Doyle-Gillespie has spent over a decade as a police officer serving with the Baltimore City Police Department working in many high-crime areas of the city. While teaching at the Baltimore City Police Academy, Doyle-Gillespie turned to poetry to cope with the high stress nature of the job. He writes about what he and his fellow officers experience while working on the streets of Baltimore. In this interview, Detective Doyle-Gillespie shares with us his inspirations and the values he places on the humanities.
What inspires you in your current position/role?
"A business owner noticed me reading a philosophy book one day, and he stopped to talked to me about it. We chatted and, as we prepared to go our separate ways, he shook his head incredulously. He pointed at my uniform and frowned. 'A young man with all of that education and so much intellect should be making six figures and not wasting his time with this. I run a paper company. Who cares, right? Just give me a call. We will need some new, young executives in the new year.'
He enthusiastically shook my head and graciously excused himself.
Whenever I come to the question of what inspires me, I always recall the executive who, essentially, told me that he had an uninspiring job for me. There was good money to be made, but “who cares?”
I have learned that I simply cannot function in a job that only fills those first and second-level Maslow’s needs. Inspiration, for me, comes from knowing that I am contributing to positive change in our society. I have to see my work speak to the micro-level thinking of my students, and the macro-level of the work that they do when they go into the world. Reconnecting public servants with the ethos of humanism allows me to do that."
Why do you believe that the humanities are important to everyone, and not just people in academia?
"The name speaks for itself. The humanities are about each of us. They can be, must be, nurtured in the greenhouse of academia, but they are practical tools that allow each of us to lead examined lives. They give us examples, questions, and answers about the human condition. The humanities are about people."
What is something that people might be surprised to learn about you (hobby, skill, interesting story)?
"I have a black belt in Hapkido."
What's a book you've always wanted to read but haven't gotten around to?
"I love magical realism. I need to read One Hundred Years of Solitude."
In what ways have the arts influenced your life and the lives of your community?
"I count the arts as a cord that binds me to my community. It’s our lingua franca. It’s our on-going conversation. We write. We read. We share books. The most important thing is, I’d say, is that we teach each other. The people that are in my karass, as Kurt Vonnegut would call it, show love for each other by teaching and challenging each other to become more immersed in the arts and, thus, more insightful about the human condition."
How can the humanities be integrated into every part of life?
"I was in a subway in St. Petersburg, Russia. Not only was it immaculate, but it was adorned with a statue of Pushkin. The commuter can honor the role of the arts in their national identity, their cultural identity. I would say that everyone who is devoted to the arts and humanities can be as persistent about them and their importance as are people who see only a value in the commute and the schedule of the trains. Always ask whether there is a point to be made about the humanities when the fog of day-to-day threatens to push them out."
Our vision is to create a community of learners enriched, engaged and enlightened through the humanities.