Written by: Kevin Cann
I am sad. I am sad for the loss of George Floyd. I am mad. I am mad that a man was executed by the very people that are employed to protect him. I am also sad for the deaths of the police officers involved in these riots. These police officers were not the ones with their knee on Mr. Floyd’s neck. These officers were the ones attempting to protect the peaceful protesters, as well as the lives, and properties of the communities. They were doing their jobs.
Just like George Floyd was ripped away from his family much too soon, these police officers were too. David Dorn was a 77 year old retired police captain that was killed in St. Louis while the murder was broadcasted live on Facebook live. He was murdered ironically on Martin Luther King Jr drive. Mr. Dorn was also a member of the black community.
I am sad for the business owners that watched their livelihoods go up in flames. Many of these business owners were members of the black community. These businesses represented their strength in overcoming the struggle that their families endured to give them those opportunities. These opportunities are now piles of ash and broken glass.
I have heard some people say that they do not care about the big stores being looted and burned. Perhaps a neighborhood Target employed a person from the community that was saving up enough money to go to college. That Target may have also employed a single mother making ends meet but demonstrating to her children what hard work and discipline really is.
The argument will be, “Well, they can just get another job.” Perhaps, but isn’t that the issue we have been facing in this country? Is it really that easy for them to just go and get another job? If that is the case, then what is all of this fighting for? You see, it is not that easy.
The violence that we have seen drowns out the meaningful voices of the peaceful protesters. Their important message cannot be heard because of a select few opportunists bringing more chaos to an already chaotic world. This message stating that we will not stand for inequality anymore gets lost in the smoke of the burning businesses of each community.
When you are in poverty it is very difficult to get out of it. Burning down communities, does not help the situation. A setback while someone is in poverty is nearly impossible to overcome. These burning buildings are represented of lost futures for a community fighting so hard to improve themselves. Every burning building is representative of lost opportunity.
In the last few days, I have seen people scold other people for mentioning the riots in the same sentence as the tragic loss of George Floyd. Can’t you see how they are related? You cannot talk about a systemic race issue without looking at the whole system.
Just looking at one piece of the system is very reductionist. This even includes showing compassion for the dead police officers. The lack of compassion that I have witnessed for these dead officers is also very sad and disappointing.
This can result in police officers feeling threatened and targeted. When fear gets this high, we run the risk of another tragic incident like the one in which we witnessed about a week ago, and the many others that have led up to this point. Then we are right back where we started. A starting line for civil rights that was drawn as far back as the 1960s.
If we want genuine equality, we need a change in behavior. We need to mourn together. We need to mourn the loss of George Floyd together. We need to mourn the loss of the police officers together. We need to stand with the business owners in the destroyed communities, pick up a broom, and help them clean up the destruction. We need to do this as ONE community.
We can’t value one life more than another. This is how we got into this mess in the first place. If we want genuine equality, we need to be willing to perform the actions necessary to make this happen. This does not include telling people how they should feel.
You cannot force feed people information. This will never work on any topic. They will not listen until they know you care. “We must meet the forces of hate with the power of love.” Even if you are saying the right message, people will not listen until they know you care. We need to show we care first before we can start to have difficult conversations. It is even more powerful to show someone that you disagree with that you care about them. That is what the world needs more of.
We need to show we understand first, before we can have difficult conversations. We are a country of 330 million people. We are all different. That is what makes this country great. This also poses a large challenge. There are a vast number of perspectives and beliefs. “Our aim must never to be to defeat or humiliate…but to win his friendship and understanding.”
Those are important words from Martin Luther King Jr. You cannot force feed your ideals to someone else either. Arguing with them on social media will not lead to a world of less hate. That only creates more hate and divide. Again, “Hate begets hate.” Even if your message in an argument is the right one, it is contributing to the problems that the world faces. This lack of understanding and respect just leads to more hatred and divide.
Arguing with that person will not change the world. However, showing that person compassion and understanding will. I know this is very difficult to do, but what is more powerful than showing someone that we do not agree with compassion and understanding? Especially on public forums such as the comments sections of social media platforms.
Instead of telling someone they should not mention the riots and George Floyd in the same sentence, how about we tell them that we are hurting too, and we can mourn together. If you disagree with someone’s perspective on a given topic, don’t start an argument. Instead, tell them that you are hurting too, and we can mourn together.
We are all hurting. We are all just hurting a bit differently, but we are all hurting. We all hurt over the horrific things we have all witnessed. We need to mourn together to heal. Once we heal together, it lays the groundwork for respectful dialogue to make progress happen.