It's easy to forget that we are all perfect in our own design. Sometimes we muck it up with habits and choices that do not serve us.
Wow, what a week. The death of George Floyd has thrown this country into a tailspin. Protests, looting, curfews—a nation erupting before our very eyes on live television.
As I watched, my heart sank. My mind went back and forth between what was happening last night and the video, still raw, of George Floyd pinned to the street with a knee to his neck, pleading for his life with the words, “I can’t breathe.” My heart sank as I learned from news reports that he called out for his mother in his final moments.
And then, the protests. I felt the outrage and the anger pour out of Americans everywhere who are rightly furious that this kind of injustice seems to know no end. This story is yet another startling reminder that we all really aren’t in the same boat. We don’t all walk down the street or through the park and get the same reactions from one another, not to mention from law enforcement.
So here we are. Headed not just into summer, but in so many ways, into the great unknown. Most stay-at-home orders have been lifted or eased. Businesses are trying to reopen, but many of the ones that did ended up being looted this weekend. Social distancing and mask rules are in effect, but let’s face it, they will be challenging to enforce. Just look at the pictures from this past Memorial Day weekend. In fact, it seems that in just a few short days, the pandemic has become secondary news.
How both of these stories play out moving forward will come down to all of us. Without clear federal guidelines, we are all left to our own devices. My health and safety will be dependent on your actions, and yours will be dependent on mine. In this country where independence and freedom are prized values, it will be interesting to see if there is, in fact, a common good and a higher purpose that we can all coalesce around.
I’m generally an optimistic person, but I’m a realist and I can see the unrest everywhere. I can feel the cracks. I can feel the anger and the rage. I can sense the anxiety. So many people I spoke to earlier this week expressed deep dismay and sadness about the politicization of wearing masks (even though studies show it helps to stop the spread and it seems more people are adhering to the rules than protesting them). People I spoke to also expressed immense anxiety about how quickly we have gone from “we are in this together” to being at war with one another. And after George Floyd’s murder everyone I spoke to wondered what was happening to our country.
It is indeed hard to stay optimistic when it feels like everything is moving beneath you. At the start of this week, a friend asked me to assure him that decency was going to prevail in the coming months. He said he wanted assurance from someone that this insanity is going to dissipate. He said he wanted assurance that goodness—good human goodness—will rise up and knock back what we’re seeing on social media and on the news. I know for sure he never could have anticipated how the week would come to a close.
I listened and said that I understood his desire, but that I wasn’t sure whether I could honestly give him the assurance he was looking for. But as I thought more about it, I came to this conclusion: I can assure him (and you and me as well) that our innate goodness will indeed rise up above the meanness. Our collective decency will stamp out the bigotry and racism that turns your stomach and mine. Our collective humanity will assuredly destroy the inhumanity that seeks attention. Our light will extinguish the darkness that tries to overpower it and inspiring moments will still move us.
Just look at the incredible history made yesterday when the SpaceX shuttle made lift off on its way to the International Space Station. What an inspiring moment for our country during an otherwise unsettling time. A literal bright spot among a lot of dark news.
As I went to bed last night, I told my daughter that I wished we had a leader who would stand up and say “enough.” A leader who can say that we can all breathe and that he or she would assemble a meeting of law enforcement, racial leaders and people of decency to come together in Washington to map out a way for us all to go forward. I imagine a summit where people with deep hurt, rage and anger can be heard and where peaceful change is possible.
We are not here to fight one another. We are not here to demean or belittle one another. We are here to light a new way forward. I can assure you of this: We are here to confidently, calmly, and assuredly walk forward — and walk forward together. We will walk past chaos and mayhem and into the light, which is where the vast majority of us want to stand. The vast majority of us were not out looting or robbing. The vast majority of us want to “be the difference.” We are here to raise our voices and to usher in a new decade of decency, integrity, and goodness for all people of all skin colors, all genders, all religions and all ages.
I can’t assure you of everything you want or need at this moment. I can’t calm all of your fears. But I do know that the majority of people will walk forward with their heads high, their shoulders back, and their spirits intact. Our goodness will prevail, so don’t lose sight of that.
We are not here to watch our fellow human beings be mistreated because of their skin color or which zip code they were born in. That must end. I know that I’m not here to let that be the case, and I know you aren’t either. So come November, get involved. Vote. Let your voice be heard. It’s the only way that deep, systemic change comes about. And I know there are way more of us who feel this way than those who don’t.
As Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms of Atlanta said Friday night: “We are better than this. We’re better than this as a city. We are better than this as a country.” She’s right.
So, let’s go. We’ve got work to do. People want better. People deserve better. People want hope, they want change, and they want assurance. Let’s give it to them.
PRAYER OF THE WEEK
Dear God, please help me walk into the light and past the darkness. Don’t let those trying to sow confusion prevail. Empower those of us who believe in good to step out and be the good the world so desperately needs. Amen.
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