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Sunday, June 7, 2020

When do I also look the other way?: Contemplating the Death of George Floyd

Officer who stood by as George Floyd died highlights complex Asian American, black relations
Police officer Tou Thao who looked the other way during George Floyd's death
Photo credit: Darnella Frazier/Facebook

The images and videos of George Flloyd I cannot unsee.  Pinned against brutality. 

Suffered for his identity.  Died of asphyxiation, loss of breath, a senseless death. 
It erupts anger, sadness, and quite frankly shakes my faith in humanity.

A lot of us, including myself, are wondering how we should react to this damnation.  Words from Father Jaqcues Philippe, as he writes in The Way of Trust and Love compels me. 

We must ask: What does God want of me here?  What is the right way to live through this?  Which part of the Gospel am I called by this situation to put into practice now?  What acts of faith and hope, what progress in love, am I being asked to make today?  What good can be accomplished in this situation that depends on me?  Without fretting any more about what other people should do or should have done, we look to our own responsibilities: What good, depending on me, can I do today that nobody else can do?

Sure, it challenges me to be aware: in what ways am I racist in the way I think and view people, particularly Black people?

But what’s more daunting and challenging is that in the scene of George Floyd’s death, I feel like I’m more like Tou Thao, the Asian police officer who had his back turned the whole time while George was suffering.  

What sins of omission, in what ways have I looked the other way, in self-preservation, perhaps apathy towards others, while another is suffering?

In recent days how have I been numbing myself with another video from The Office or sports highlights from YouTube to distract me, to make me feel better?  What people in my own family, friends, or ministry that I know that I’m definitely avoiding because I don’t want to feel more pain instead of the call to empathize.  Why would I rather watch the Rage Monster from Dude Perfect than allow the Rage of this past week compel me to love more?

I believe everything should bring me back to God.  And then it hit me.

George Flloyd was pinned against brutality.  He suffered for his identity.  He died of asphyxiation, loss of breath.  He endured a senseless death.  And so did Jesus Christ.  

Jesus nailed to the cross
How am I too, like this man?

More than anything what the death of George Floyd has done is that it has given me a real-time view of the type of suffering of moments my Lord and Savior endured.  

Yes, I must pray.  Yes, maybe I’m called to peacefully protest the injustice.  But I must also ask Jesus to purify me and my interior.  Lord, have mercy on my soul.  Please forgive my sins of omission and apathy towards others' suffering.  Give me clarity and peace of mind on what I should do to love better, especially those around me.  And as Fr. Jacques Philippe calls, please give me the courage to ask the right questions.  What good, depending on me, can I do today that nobody else can do?


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