As a white woman who considers herself to be an American mom with a heart for Jesus Christ, recent events involving racial tensions and the death of George Floyd have made me realize that I personally have not given enough attention to the problem of racism that defines the American experience for people of color.
My own lack of attention is a form of indifference that denies the brotherly love in me that empowers me to do the things I can to advocate change. This truth about brotherly love must be defended, and we must model this at home if we want it to be reflected as a nation.
Below is my response to the killing of George Floyd and the pain of racism that will not abate until all people of good will learn to listen.
On Monday the children’s network Nickelodeon played eight minutes and 46 seconds of breathing sounds while flashing the words on a blank screen: “I can’t breathe” – the repeated plea from 46-year-old George Floyd as a Minnesota police officer pressed his knee against Floyd’s neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds while he was handcuffed, lying face down on the ground on May 25, 2020. He died on the scene and the video went viral sparking outrage and unrest still ongoing as I write this sentence (06/02/20).
On this there can be no debate. The killing of George Floyd, a black American, is an act of evil personified by the actions of an officer of the law and three others who did nothing to redeem this inhumane event. Captured on video this act will live in infamy as a depraved abuse of power devoid of any respect for the life of fellow human being.
Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, this event launched a renewed sense of indignation in a nation that was founded by imperfect people who nevertheless believed in divine principles of our shared humanity. A fundamental premise that people are created equal by one Creator who grants every individual intelligent life and free will; and this is power that can never be taken, but is easily surrendered to the bully, the drug or the device. (2 Timothy 1:7) Today with this video, we can all witness the lethal abuse of law enforcement authority.
With this understanding that at any time in the course of human history, the origin of freedom from tyranny rests in the hearts and minds of people of good will, I choose to believe that many of the vulnerabilities of our society today are exposed with great, painful intensity so that they can be properly understood and we can choose to correct our ways moving forward as individuals, families, communities.
There is no doubt in my mind that the power to pursue justice for George Floyd’s death and every other unlawful act against humanity that happens at the hands of people who abuse the public trust of power granted to them, resides in the hearts and minds of people of good will.
“We must continue to prove to the world that we can provide a rising standard of living for all men without loss of civil rights or human dignity to any man.” Robert Kennedy
A call to action: listen to our brothers and sisters who “can’t breathe”
Even though I can read about racism and learn about the current challenges in the news, I cannot really know anything about it until I hear it from someone close to me who has lived it. So perhaps this is an opportunity to proactively listen to the people in our own system of family and friends who are having very real and unjust experiences in their daily American life journey. This means that you are not interested in defending your own virtue as you learn about the mistreatment they endure. Just listen so you can be informed about something that cuts deep.
Via LinkedIn there is a really helpful response to this crisis written by a white mother and her bi-racial daughter, Kate Purmal and Miriah Driver. Miriah’s dad is my husband’s life-long friend (they grew up together in Berkeley, CA). As successful businesswomen, Kate and her daughter Miriah urge business leaders to take positive, proactive steps to address the racial tensions in our society. They offer practical guidance and resources for corporate education and training.
There is no law against brotherly love
I think most people will agree that it is not okay for anyone abusing their authority be it a parent, coach, politician, teacher, priest, business leader, bureaucrat, or an officer of the law. We can find agreement with this truth because of self-interest. Nobody wants to be abused. But how many Americans can imagine being the target of racial tension daily (which I accept is the spiritual legacy of an imperfect culture still giving some life to racist beliefs learned across the generations)?
If you are a white male who fathered a white son, can you imagine having to have a conversation with your child at 13 years of age about why they will encounter hostility from law enforcement that has the potential to be fatal?? How much pain would you experience having to explain that in right circumstances and the wrong thinking, the color of your skin can become a death sentence? Personally, I can only imagine what that feels like.
Unity comes from sharing core values that transcend political views. Our nation is not having political discourse. It is more like a nasty divorce. A house divided indicates a perception of separation that prevents us from making a better way moving forward with justice for all. And because emotion is understandably strong, I choose to begin at home by reaffirming our shared values that make a free society possible.
Below are some of the American values that defend freedom from violence and tyranny as I have come to appreciate them.
- Religious freedom. In a free society, the fundamental premise is that the highest authority over humanity, “Nature’s God”, “Creator”, “Divine Providence”, says you can choose to believe in God or not. In this way we are all equal with the power of intelligent life and free will, and this is power of faith that can never be taken but is easily surrendered to fear.
- Respect for the law. The laws of men are not perfect – nor are they all moral (e.g., laws of segregation). So we must be vigilant about what laws we allow to persist for if any law transgresses against the dignity of one group it will eventually be turned on you. Again, this is evident because of self-interest.
- Reverence for the life of every human being. The purpose of government is to secure the God-given rights to life, liberty, and property.
- Defense of free speech for people you disagree with. A racist perspective cannot be outlawed, but inhumane and unjust acts based upon race can be outlawed. We can learn how to meet people where they are amid the emotion, speak truth with mercy, show the way and yes, enforce laws that defend the dignity of human life. We learned today (06/03/20) that the officer who took Floyd’s life is being charged with second degree murder. He is being afforded the civil right to due process which he denied another citizen. It feels counter-intuitive, but it is the way to seek justice. To return evil deeds with good acts.
- Elections that ensure the peaceful transfer of power. Elections do indeed have consequences. And elections are not about getting your way all the time. I understand elections as the vehicle through which we negotiate good will in the struggle to learn from different perspectives. I pray we can widen our window of tolerance to keep our focus on preserving the values that gave birth to our institutions as we grapple with conflict arising from different opinions and perspectives on public policy. Let us give more attention to our local elections and make sure that we know the track record of judges and other elected officials seeking to hold an office of power. Local control is highest and best.
- “Rediscovering the Ideas of Liberty: The Foundations of America’s Greatness,” W. David Stedman Associates Publications Division,Asheboro, N.C. (1994)
- Intolerable tensions between American Cities and Their Police Forces
About: We are a non-profit education center founded in Roseville, CA to strengthen the parent-child bond in a hyper-connected world. Our mission is to restore families with the mustard seed of faith that declares liberty already belongs to the soul because one God, the Creator of all humanity, grants every human being intelligence and free will to choose what to believe, and that is power that can never be taken, but is easily surrendered to the bully, the drug or the device.
Peace on earth begins with peace at home.
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Joanna Jullien is an author, educator and consultant on strengthening the parent-child relationship in a cyber-powered world. She is a former technology executive trained in behavioral science at U.C. Berkeley, a mother of two grown sons, and an author of books for practical guidance on parenting, growing up and family life in the network culture. As a family and technology culture advisor, Joanna has appeared on 103.9FM The Fish, 710AM Keeping Faith in America, 1380AM The Answer, and Examiner.com.
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