Published on June 11th, 2020 | by Randy Weeks1
The View From The Balcony: We Are George Floyd
Jesus loves the little children,
All the children of the world,
White, and white, and white, and white,
They are precious in his sight.
Jesus loves the little children of the world.
George Floyd is dead. D.E.A.D. Murdered by a depraved-hearted officer-of-his-own-law, an unwilling sacrificial lamb to godless racism and violence, George Floyd was lynched. His rights were violated. He had no due process. He was tried, convicted, and―slowly and wantonly―tortured and executed by men vested with the authority and mission to serve and to protect.
What crucifixion was to the Roman Empire; what the hangman’s noose was to the Old West and the South; what the electric chair, the gas chamber, and lethal injection have been in the last 130 years; mutated into the executionary knee of a police officer and three of his colleagues on May 25, 2020 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
I confess to the early thought, “Thank god it’s not Mississippi.” But it is Mississippi. It is Alabama. It is Georgia. It is New York. It is Arizona. It is our entire nation.
What we are seeing in the lynching of George Floyd is but one more reprehensible example of systemic and institutionalized racism that stems from the overt and covert belief that one is better or more worthy than another, which, conversely, means that the other is less worthy and of less value than the first.
This racism is inherent in the shrines to the Confederacy that remain, official statues and flags being two predominant examples. Racism is now on full display through the graphic and alarming video documentation of Floyd’s lynching and the unjust murders of other African Americans.
No justice, no peace.
Know justice, know peace.
Opposition to the Black Lives Matter movement is born of fear and denial, both conscious and unconscious, that those of us who aren’t black are getting the short end of the stick. Here’s a newsflash: Caucasian Americans, particularly we straight protestant males, have held that stick since long before the birth of this nation and have used it actively, complicitly, and ignorantly to beat down those we saw as different by color, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, social status, disability, accent, hair style, clothing, girth, level of education, age, and any other perceived difference (read: threat).
Tragically this oppression has become such a part of our culture that it is not even recognizable to the vast majority of the privileged. Of course every life matters, but substituting “All Lives Matter” for “Black Lives Matter” is in and of itself a form of racial injustice, intended or not, because it hijacks the focus from the oppressed, leaving them once more starving with only a few crumbs of stale bread, while the majority continues to feast on the main course and fresh cake.
We have in this very moment the greatest opportunity as a nation that we have had since the Civil Rights Movement and the Viet Nam War protests. What will we do with it? We ignore it at our own peril. We minimize it at the peril of our children and our grandchildren. We dismiss it at the peril of our nation. We deny it at the peril of humanity.
Eric Reason, Michael Lorenzo Dean, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Martin Luther King, Jr., Medgar Evers, Elwood Higginbottom. Not one of them nor thousands of others died of natural causes nor under just conditions.
Injustice for one is injustice for all.
Justice for one is justice for all.
Thich Nhat Hanh, the Vietnamese Buddhist monk whose Magnolia Grove Monastery sits a few miles away in Batesville, MS, has said we can be fierce Bodhisattvas―enlightened beings who passionately pursue peace, wielding the weapons of faith, hope, and love with awareness and intention.
Such action is the surest antidote to our own despair. Power used thusly produces more power in kind. In meeting hatred and violence, we often hear, “Kill them with kindness.” The intention in that is good, but I would suggest that the fierce Bodhisattva might instead say, “AWAKEN them with kindness.” It is time for us to be fierce Bodhisattvas and to wage peace.
The playing field is not yet level. It won’t be until the soul of America is ripped open and we take hold of the truth that black lives matter every bit as much as every other life. That is the current battle, and it extends to every minority of every demographic in our world.
It is not enough for us to be non-racist. We must be anti-racist. We absolutely, positively must actively, passionately, and persistently embrace and protect our common humanity and worth by building a just society that celebrates the mosaic of the plethora of diversity that makes us beautiful. And to behold that beauty we must open our eyes to see, open our ears to hear, open our hands to help, and open our hearts to love. When we do that, we just might hear George Floyd take another breath.
Because change too often comes not
from love or understanding,
When anger arises and is met with anger,
violence often springs forth.
But when anger arises and is met
with love and understanding,
a verdant garden grows,
and the fruits thereof are sweet
and nourish generations
with harmony and peace.
Woe unto us if we do not lay down
our arms of swords and shields,
teargas, rubber bullets, tazers,
and the sharpness of tongue,
and open our arms in kindness and unity,
embracing the kinship of all humanity.
We are one family.
We are George Floyd.
…and that’s the view from The Balcony.