“These are the times that try men’s souls.”
– Thomas Paine, The Crisis
The year 2020 has been filled with challenges for Americans and the month of June has just taken its first breath. As Paine observed during the American Revolution, trying times test the fortitude of people. Those same people make up the population of our country. Make no mistake, our country is under attack by demons from abroad and from our own soil. Our will has been tested before. Now is the time to recognize true enemies and work together to enact positive change.
We thought our biggest enemy was COVID-19. While this virus has caused a significant number of lives to be lost and has done extreme damage to our economy, the tide seems to have turned. We must hope that social distancing will be observed in a manner sufficient to tame a possible second wave.
Many people lost loved ones without being able to say goodbye. Jobs have been lost at unheard of rates. Businesses have suffered. Yet, the American economy seems to be fully capable of bouncing back over time.
A cancer from within reared its ugly head on May 25th. George Floyd was killed by police officer Derek Chauvin. His death was completely preventable and should not have happened. I do not think we will ever know what was going through the mind of Chauvin. Did he ignore the pleas of Floyd due to race?
What we do know is that Floyd knew he was in trouble. He was gasping for air and asking for help to no avail.
What is the true value of a man’s life? I am talking about a father, a friend, a son, a dedicated worker, a person with a future. There is no skin color associated with the lifeblood that flows through one’s veins. A heart does not care about pigmentation, either. The value of a man’s life can only be measured by God. No one on earth is in a position to make that valuation.
Whether this was police brutality or pure unadulterated racism, it is as big as any issue in the country. All indications point to this being a combination of the two sins. We first must understand that racism is not always white against African American. It can be a two-way street and for it to truly end, it has to end for everyone. Racism resides within individuals, not races. This makes it tougher to eradicate. After all, the Civil War ended in 1865. That is when the 13th amendment was enacted.
Unfortunately, freedom does not equate to equal rights. It has been 52 years since Martin Luther King Jr was assassinated. He laid the groundwork for future generations to look beyond the color of someone’s skin and directly at the content of their character.
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
– Martin Luther King Jr.
Peaceful protests have occurred over the past several days. This is the light or love the King spoke of. The accompanying rioting, looting, and property destruction come from darkness or hatred.
This has been an ongoing war for generations. I think we can all see that there has been progress over the centuries, but it is not enough, and it is not happening quickly enough. Until the day comes when the color of a person’s skin is irrelevant to everyone, we all need to keep working to get better. Equal rights mean equal treatment in all settings for all people. Let the legacy of George Floyd be that of a man whose death resonated within the people of his country enough to cause true change.