We had intended to stand out on the boulevard today as a gesture of mourning over the death of George Floyd. Then, the violence, destruction and looting began. The narrative shifted from outrage at the abuse of law to disgust over the breaking of it. More than that, the behavior of the crowd brought dishonor to the memory of George Floyd. We decided we had to choose a different way to mourn the callous injustice. We needed to go beyond merely taking a stand, we had to walk. We must change course and move toward a better future.
Truth is, standing by the curb is easy—one and done. Changing my behavior is hard. If my grief and outrage only burns for an hour or two on the sidewalk, what difference was made beyond the assuage of conscience? If Minneapolis does not mark the beginning of new direction, then the memory of George Floyd will have been entrusted to the hooligans who used it as a pretext for violence and looting.
This man’s death ought to be a catalyst for change, a point in time that calls us to compassionate community. In the last few days there has been much screaming at cameras, hoping presumably, to be heard in Washington or at the State capitol. Maybe someone in the halls of power can do something this time. I have my doubts. A legislative agenda is no substitute for a good example, a change of heart and soul.
Moreover, I am tired of waiting for change. Do I really expect compassion to trickle down from some tower of political virtue? It has been said that “politics is downstream from culture.” If that is true, then the source of this contagion of hate is not in the White House or the halls of congress, it is in me. It also means that I, in my small corner of the world, have the power to change things.
But this kind of change does not come because I hold a sign by the boulevard and take a stand, it comes when I decide to be different and take a walk. Mother Theresa said, “Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.” Small things can have an amazing impact. Consider COVID 19.
What might be the impact of small, deliberate communities joining together to obey Christ’s command to love one another (John 13:34-35)? Am I convicted enough to change that much? Are you? I try to imagine the outcry over the death of George Floyd marking the beginning of an epidemic. Only this epidemic will not call for social distance but social unity. The symptoms of this virus are love, compassion and justice. Most of all, it calls for intentional relationship, the multiplication of small, extended families whose unified purpose is to…
And to walk humbly with our God.
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