It is unthinkable to believe that there is such a thing as a born troublemaker.
After all, how can you be responsible for something you didn’t have any control over?
Trouble-making does not necessarily equate to being a lawbreaker or a criminal.
On the contrary, it could be as simple as never fitting in.
I never saw myself as a troublemaker until I realized that many people viewed me as problematic because of how I made them feel by standing up for my beliefs.
I don’t believe in virtue signaling because none of us is that virtuous.
I’ve been told that I make some people uncomfortable because I don’t mince words or always adhere to the rules of engagement.
And either you like me, or you don’t. So, there is a minimal gray area when people interact with me.
The Cambridge Dictionary defines a Troublemaker as “Someone who intentionally causes problems for other people, especially those in a position of power or authority.”
Urban Dictionary stated:
A troublemaker is someone who expresses a view on a forum that differs from those of the Administrator and/or, more commonly, a forum moderator. The person deemed to be a troublemaker will usually be 100% correct in their statements, but the moderator will object… (p. 1)
As a retired police officer, I learned that people did not want justice. They only wanted their way.
On a warm summer night in 1993, I was dispatched to a domestic violence call. I arrived on the scene to discover a woman bleeding with a deep gash on her face.
The witnesses reported that her boyfriend had been struck in the face with a gun.
I got a description of the boyfriend and was told that he might be at a local bar called The Hot Spot.
The bar wasn’t far, so I walked.
When I entered the bar, the music came to a screeching halt as I looked around for the suspect.
He wasn’t there.
So, I returned to the scene where the ambulance arrived, and EMTs examined the injured woman.
As I observed EMTs administering medical care to the woman, I noticed a nearby lot filled with abandoned vehicles.
I said, “I wonder if the suspect could be hiding under one of those cars?”
I pulled out my flashlight and began looking under each car until I saw what looked to be a leg sticking out.
At first, I thought I imagined things because I didn’t know I would find someone hiding, and to say the least, under a car. But, after all, it was merely a hunch.
I commanded the individual to come from underneath the car slowly with his hands visible.
He complied with my orders, and the witnesses identified the man as the boyfriend who struck the woman. But unfortunately, I didn’t locate the gun.
As I placed the handcuffs on the man, the injured woman began begging me to let him go.
At this point, I said, “You called the police to find the guy who had beaten you…and now you want him released…Are you crazy?”
She then turned on me. She became argumentative as she complained to my sergeant, who had just arrived on the scene.
I arrested the man, and Sergeant Orman said, “Officer Grunberg, don’t get into a back and forth with the public. If you have determined someone has broken the law, charge them with the crime, arrest them, and leave it at that.”
He was correct.
Unfortunately, I wasn’t very good at following orders when I thought I was correct.
Sometimes the general public needs verbal correcting when it is wrong.
I was labeled a troublemaker and was constantly being transferred from one precinct to the next. In addition, each precinct was located in high-crime areas.
Interestingly enough, I was trusted and respected by my coworkers.
In private conversations, they would tell me how much they respected my resolve and outspokenness when it was necessary.
Under the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, I am an introvert, specifically an INTJ.
Generally, I am quiet until someone defies reason or acts irrationally.
In her article, “Five Advantages to Being a Troublemaker,” author Liz Ryan said:
When you speak your mind, you get a reputation. Some people will call you a malcontent, and others will applaud your willingness to help the company succeed by nudging your boss to make changes. It doesn’t matter what people think of you. Every time you speak your truth, it will become easier (para. 12).
I found Ryan’s analysis accurate, but I was not always this way.
When I first joined the police department, I was constantly being tested by coworkers and the general public to assess my strength.
I started reading books about logic and reason and came across “The Voice of Reason” by Ayn Rand.
In the first chapter, it read:
Reality exists as an objective absolute facts are facts independent of man’s feelings, wishes, hopes, or fears (p. 4).
This passage resonated with me when I attempted to find my footing within law enforcement.
I am a long-time fan of Ayn Rand, so the idea behind Objectivism was not foreign to me.
After immersing myself within the philosophies of Objectivism and Existentialism, I was renewed under these doctrines that promoted enlightened self-interest and self-determination.
In short, I became a self-described “Elite intellectual” with extreme self-confidence.
No longer would I allow mediocrity and small-mindedness to take hold of my existence.
Henceforth, I will become the judge who presides over daily intellectual matters.
I rededicated myself to law enforcement by ensuring I did not violate anyone’s rights.
And criminals, politicians, and even my supervisors would not get a pass on how I vetted facts and solved critical problems.
If a situation didn’t subscribe to the basic tenets of the scientific method, I was not getting on board.
And once more, I eloquently expressed my dissent with the oration and conciseness of Perry Mason.
Why was my form of troublemaking attractive to me?
Because I was walking the talk, I wasn’t just reading about Ayn Rand and Jean-Paul Sartre; I attempted to be a living example of their works.
Based on my hardwiring, it was not a challenging task.
As an INTJ born with intellectual curiosity, I take full responsibility for being a troublemaker.
I support everyone’s right to opinions and the ability to choose their path in life.
However, I reject any notion of playing fast and loose with facts and any concerted campaign against intellectualism as a bourgeoise or elite concept.
If my love for the scholarly work of philosophers, psychologists, and thought leaders makes me a troublemaker, I am guilty.
Suppose you promise not to push your low-brow sentimentalities on me. And I promise not to shove my high-brow insights on you.
After all, trouble usually occurs when there is a lack of respect for each other’s choices in life.
And I choose mutual respect above all else and intellectual honesty.
—Amy R. Grunberg
Rand, A. (1990). The voice of reason: Essays in Objectivist Thought. New York: The Penguin Group.
Ryan, L. (2017, Jan. 31). Five advantages to being a troublemaker. Forbes. Retrieved from: https://bit.ly/3pgrLqe.
Troublemaker (n.d.). Urban Dictionary. Retrieved from: https://bit.ly/3C4WspS.