The recent events surrounding the death of George Floyd have caused a lot of unfortunate unrest and further disregard for human life and civility. There are times when religion and the foundational aspects of our existence coincide with events in society and so they prompt a response from those within religious and evangelical circles. And what needs to be said here is that we do not have an underlying problem with respect for black lives specifically. We have a problem with the respect for the dignity of ALL life and why it even matters in the first place. And we have for a while.
First of all, let me go on the record as saying this: what happened to George Floyd is unacceptable and it should have never happened. He was a human being created in the image of God and the complete disregard for that is despicable. But let’s be clear: everyone is created in the image of God and their dignity and worth lies in that fact, regardless of the color of their skin. This means that being created in the image of God means that the color of one’s skin shouldn’t matter when it comes to respecting them. But then that means that everyone deserves equal treatment, whether black, brown, white, whatever.
So if this is true, where is the outrage when ANY sort of murder occurs, no matter who the victim is? Human life should not be subject to any sort of agenda or blind eye when any violation against it occurs. There have been many cases of other murders in our history, with victims both black and white and assailants both black and white. It is not a color specific issue, and it’s been a problem since the beginning. If it wasn’t, there wouldn’t have to be a law against it. And yet, there is rarely such a reaction to a murder as the one we’ve seen in response to George Floyd’s murder.
And this is a problem. It shows that there is a disregard for or ignorance of the fundamental truth that we all have a right to life because of the dignity given to us by the One Who created us all. And we desperately need to acknowledge and get back to this. Doing so will help us all live in peace because it shows us who we are and who our fellow man is. We are valuable because of our God-given identity, not because of something that is an accident (philosophical term meaning something that is part of a person but that doesn’t affect the essence, or core, of who that person is. Physical traits would be an example of this.)
People might disagree with this and say why can’t we just be kind to one another in our country because it’s the decent thing to do? Well you have to look deeper and ask yourself, why is it the decent thing to do? Who’s to say being mean to one another can’t be the norm and the “decent” thing to do? You might say well, it came from the founding fathers. But where did they get it from? God! Look at the language in the Constitution and Declaration of Independence. They acknowledge that our rights come directly from Almighty God, the Creator. And so it is His command that we be kind and love one another. It is Him Who gives us our identity.
So looking at all of this, can’t we agree that we need to get back to the real reason that we are all valuable, our God-given dignity, and work together to start making sure ALL people are respected and the same anger goes out toward ALL people? Yes, God made us all different for a reason and so that we could all bring our unique gifts and backgrounds to the table. But we have to use them to work together to build a better world for everyone collectively.
Allow me to make a little side note. To work together, we must also respect authority and those in charge. Otherwise all will be chaos. The actions of the four police officers who killed George Floyd were horrific and it is right that they are being brought to justice. But those four do not speak for all police officers and there many more who use their badges to do good, including those involved in handling protests. Order must be brought because trading hate for hate will only multiply hate, as MLK said. And they have a right to bring this order. It’s their job. Let them do it. And if you should be respected because of your God-given dignity, shouldn’t they be respected because of theirs?
To the black community, I hear you. And it is tough to feel like you’re not heard and understood. But I invite you to look deeper. If you look at just the color of your skin, you’re actually selling yourself short and missing the inherent dignity and value you and everyone else, regardless of their skin color, has as a child of God!
Yes, racism exists. But like all sin, it can only be rooted out by turning wholeheartedly back to God and asking for His mercy and grace. So mourn George Floyd. We all should. Fight for change. We should all do that too. But let’s also all come together and recognize God as our Creator and Father and the dignity He gives us all that makes us one. This won’t truly go away until we do.
As we are still in the octave of Pentecost, let’s turn to the Holy Spirit and ask Him to come to us and enlighten our country. We can also turn to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, especially in this month of June, which the Church has designated as the month devoted to It.
Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us!
Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of Thy faithful, and kindle in them the fire of Your Love. Send forth Your Spirit, and they shall be created and You shall renew the face of the earth.