“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
MLK stayed committed to those principles when it was most inconvenient and felt the most hopeless. Really, when it mattered most.
I forced myself to watch George Floyd’s horrific, wrongful death. I cried. I felt like screaming. I wanted to see harm come to the officers as they stole a man’s dignity along with his breath. I wanted to knock the unashamed look off his assassin’s face. I felt hatred stirring in me toward that man, and with it, I felt the danger of becoming the thing I hate.
It does feel terrible. And it should. But it doesn’t feel less terrible until we get to the redemptive work of love. No matter how unjust the wound–violence and rioting has never soothed it. ONLY love has…Overcoming evil by doing good.
Any (understandable) act of violence in response to the unwarranted violent murder of that innocent man doesn’t bring freedom. We cannot answer hate with hate. Gandhi would say the whole world will end up blind if we choose this way. It doesn’t actually make anything better.
People feel a ton. They don’t know what to do. Here’s what we KNOW:
Violence cannot reconcile or eliminate violence.
Darkness doesn’t drive out darkness, it multiplies it.
Black lives matter. That message is right. But as Ronald says, the message is getting lost and the violence reinforces the problem.
We need to remember the mission. Equality. Respect. Equity. Love. Goodness. JUSTICE. George Floyd deserved all of those things. He believed in them and did his best to live them. They were suffocated. My sons of color deserve those things. All of our children do. We do. But we cannot get them THIS WAY.
It is CLEAR to anyone who can really watch it that Mr. Floyd was absolutely the victim. An innocent, hurting, respectful victim. Expressing his gut-wrenching pain and addressing his murderer as “officer” until his last painful breath.
Racism is not a new thing in this country and as horrifying as the recent, brutal, hate-driven murders of innocent people have been, few in my circle are shocked. We should be shocked, but we know too much. There is not more racism or hate, just maybe more ways to capture and share what it does when given freedom to wield its UGLY head. And no doubt, there is an attitude and atmosphere under the political “leadership” of this country giving more permission and space for it to come out in the most inexcusable ways. Bad leadership makes everyone more vulnerable, but these are issues that have existed for a long time. Some people have been ignorant to it, some not wanting to look or acknowledge it for what it is. As HORRIFYING as George Floyd’s death is, I believe people are seeing it for what it is in a way some haven’t wanted to. You cannot watch his death without seeing it for what it is. Blatant murder by someone who felt he had the right to take another man’s life. And back up a second and think about that. We watched this man die. It IS maddening, frustrating, inexcusable, intolerable, ungodly, provoking and so many more words i can’t even form. But we cannot stop fighting for things that matter. No person should have to explain that they matter.
We must remember what we are fighting. We cannot become the evil that is trying to suffocate the hope for justice we can’t now “see” out of us. Responding with anger and riots harms our spirit more and those acts are more adding gasoline to the fire. Everyone is burning. I thought yesterday that Trump really could be getting set up for a violent campaign if/when he loses the election. We are not immune to the threat of a civil war.
The only thing that overcomes evil is DOING good.
People have already suffered so much, so I understand how Kings message of “unearned suffering being redemptive” isn’t too popular for some. I understand. But truly it will be the only way to get out of this. Had Rosa RIGHTFULLY slugged that bus driver, she wouldn’t have been so clearly the wronged victim or warranted empathy from the nation. Had those heroes and sheroes on the bridge in Selma hit back, would they have garnered support from around the nation and attention from the world? I pray somehow THIS is a turning point. As late as it is, we need it.
It isn’t “right” or fair that people have to fight or die for the rights most in this country are born with. But this isn’t the end. We have to fight productively to bend the arc. White people cannot say they understand, but they can say they care and get involved. There is a role in this fight that white people play and it will be impossible to win without it.
We have got to get to work in a way that can overcome the ills we face.
I believe that although the arc of the moral universe feels long, unfair and hopeless, it does bend toward justice. We cannot achieve vengeance on our own. But we can be honest about our justifiable feelings over the ungodly acts and fight not to become the thing we hate. And we can get busy.
Here is a blog my incredible partner put together this morning. Please reach out anytime if you want to talk. We can cry and fight and pray and seek positive steps together.