It felt like life was changing again for the better. Restaurants were hanging “open for business” signs in their windows. “Come in” signs beckoned, calling out “please give us a try.” Last Wednesday evening, I went out to a restaurant with my two older granddaughters. We sat in the dining room of a quaint little Thai restaurant. It felt good. Finally, a little freedom, a little bit of normal. Even though wearing masks has become a new way of life, we started to get back to doing simple everyday activities. It felt like the safety that had vanished so quickly a few months ago had a made a U-turn and was heading back my way. I was grateful. Cautiously hopeful. The virus is receding, hurray! We are on our way! Or so I thought…
The next day, May 25th, everything shifted again. The senseless killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis rocked the country. This was a horrible and tragic incident. People everywhere were horrified. This is wrong and terrible. Everyone in this country should be able to count on life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. The founders of this country laid this out in the Declaration of Independence. “We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.” I would say safety in addition to that. George Floyd was entitled to safe humane treatment; he was entitled to his life. The extreme handling of George Floyd was NOT justified. It is wrong. It is sad and disturbing! Are there even words to adequately express how horribly wrong this was? Probably not. The words feel hollow. Our hearts and prayers go out to George’s family and friends. That is all I can offer right now, prayers!
The stark reality of troubling events has a way of putting things in perspective. Once again, everything is out of balance as if the earth rotated too far off its axis. We are wobbling out of control. The anger over George Floyd’s death is justified. We must say, out loud, this is WRONG. We must speak out. Protesting injustice is essential. We want everyone to know we do not agree with or condone this abusive treatment and frightening result. Speak out, disagree, peacefully!
That was what Jesus did. Jesus was the Prince of Peace. It was one of his names, he embodied it. He shook things up, he challenged the government and the religious leaders of his time. He was quick to point out hypocrisy and injustice. He did it peacefully. He knew that violence inspires more violence. It is contagious, it grows and spreads and nothing gets resolved. Things get worse, not better. As we can see, more innocent people have been injured or killed. This is not the way back.
Peace is also contagious. Jesus said “I have told you these things so you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world!” John 16:33 Jesus was talking to the disciples about standing firm in the face of disaster, knowing that if they relied on their own strength they would fail.
If, as a society, we are to be more kind, inclusive, more willing to listen, more accepting of the differences in others then we need more of Jesus and less of ourselves. We are all brothers and sisters of the family of God. We need change. Change starts with each of us individually. I pray God will help us examine our hearts and find our way back to peace and calm. We cannot bring George Floyd back, but I pray, we learn from this tragedy and never repeat it. Never!
Let us join with one another and pray for divine intervention to calm the hurt, the strong emotions and frustrations of so many. Let us pray for our leaders, for wisdom. Give each of us wisdom. Give us your peace. Help us all Lord! I hope we can each be an ambassador of peace wherever we find ourselves in our own communities.
May God bless and keep you safe!