Friday, June 05, 2020

George Floyd’s Death And The Ensuing Chaos

(Photos of David Dorm and Patrick Underwood, downloaded from social media.)

These are tumultous times. Like most people, I have been watching and praying as our nation once again reels with pain and violence.

I have seen the George Floyd footage and seen the outrage in the streets—the violence, looting and anarchy—and my heart breaks. COVID-19 brought many of us fear, frustration, confinement, loneliness and loss of routine. Many of us have suffered economic hardship and loss of livelihoods. People were already fraught with frustration. And now this?

Like many of you, I have watched and prayed. Time to share a few thoughts. 

According to the below article in Christianity Today, George Floyd was a redeemed man. He left a mark for the Gospel in Texas where he sought to break the cycle of violence: Floyd’s brother says he would not have approved of violent protests, and that he was a man of peace.

But instead of peaceful protests, anarchy reigns. Looting, rioting, violence, defacing property… Rioters are assaulting private citizens and attacking police who are there to protect the public. Why? I understand that people are outraged by Floyd’s death—held down by a tactical move that lasted over eight minutes and stopped his breathing. But lawlessness is not the answer. 

Some folk were protesting over the fact that Derek Chauvin, the policeman in question, was only charged with 3rd degree murder. Now that’s been changed to 2nd degree murder; but is that better? Does it guarantee Chauvin’s conviction and that he’ll end up behind bars? Apparently, 2nd degree murder is harder to prove which leaves the possibility that the culprit might walk away free. What if that happens? 

To add wood to fire, many believe the crime was racially driven. But was it? Maybe. Maybe not. I don’t know. But here’s what I do know. It doesn’t help to say, “A white cop killed a black man.” That rhetoric stirs up racism. Floyd was much more than “a black man’. His life was worth more than a label. And, yes, the policeman was white. But that fact alone doesn’t prove racism. Studies show that black cops are just as likely to kill blacks. What we do know is that a bad cop killed a defenseless man. 

As a Brit, I grew up in Europe where racism is so much less that I never really noticed it. My friends were all different colors and I loved them all. Frankly, I enjoyed their diversity just as I enjoy seeing the different color hair and eyes God has given people as well as hearing different accents and learning diverse cultures. I find it all beautiful. So does God. 

However, it is indesputable that some people have been victims of racism. This is real, unjust and painful. Maybe it is time to hear them out. Maybe it’s time to try to see through their lens and and understand them. Compassion heals a lot of wounds and helps dampen hateful narrative. Empathy also helps us all to be better citizens. 

While everyone has a right to express his or her outrage by protesting, no one has the right to destroy people’s belongings and ultimately their lives. 77-year-old David Dorn, a retired police captain, was killed trying to protect his friend’s pawn shot. Dorn was also black. But where is the outrage there? Or is it simply that it doesn’t suit the narrative of some who are bent on promoting a certain agenda and creating chaos rather than genuine sympathy? 

And where is the outrage over David Patrick Underwood, another man killed by the rioters while protecting a federal building in California? He too was black. Not that a person’s color makes any difference—not to me anyway—but if you’re going to shout “black lives matter” then let’s remember that this includes all black lives, not just those that fit a certain politcal agenda. Let’s remember, too, that all lives matter—including unborn babies. 

Some protestors do not even know why or what they are protesting. They are simply inflamed. Some claim they heard adults incitng young teens to vandalize and be violent—as if it’s the cool thing to do. Others claim some protestors are being paid to cause chaos. Comedian Deon Cole filmed people strategically destroying a policecar in LA, and posted it on Intagram. He explains what he is seeing first hand—organized, pre-planned vandalization. Interesting to note that Cole is black. And he’s only one of among in the black community who do not stand up for these actions. Most are horrified. Dr. Martin Luther King himself said, “Meet physical force with soul force.” 

The riots have indeed caused chaos, fear, loss of businesses and belongings, and even worse, the loss of lives. People’s hard work is destroyed by senseless vandalism. Financial hardships owing to the pandemic shut-down, and pent up frustration don’t help. Still, there is no excuse. Already hit by the shutdown and now the vandalism, many businesses cannot recuperate, resulting in great loss for entire communities and greater financial hardships. 

Then there’s the increased hatred against cops—many of whom work hard to protect us. Cops are being thrown in the same basket—they’re all bad. But that simply isn’t the case. Sadly, there are bad cops, but not all cops are bad. Most are good, hardworking, God-fearing citizens.  Many risk their lives for our communities, and numerous are those who die serving us—such as David Dorn.

While some minorities have felt the sting of racism, it seems the racism rant is being used to advance an evil agenda, to divide us and deepen hostility. Sure, racism is real, and we must understand it compassionately, but we cannot use it to label every crime against a black person. That doesn’t help anyone. 

Perspective is important. We must be quick not to judge since we don’t know everything. I hear that Floyd was no saint. Political analyst and commentator Candace Owens sais he had continued issues with crime and should not be lifted up as a role model. (Interesting to note, again, that Candace is black.) But, that does not negate the fact that Floyd was a man who was murdered. He had apparently turned to Jesus and was being used by Him—in spite of the fact that he had still not cleaned up his act. Hey, isn’t that the case with many of us? God works in spite of us. 

Here are my closing thoughts:

We are witnessing total lawlessness. In some states and counties, government officials are not calling it what it is. Rather, they are inciting it. They are adding to the chaos and stirring up hatred. “And because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold” (Matthew 24:12). 

Time is wrapping up. We have booted God out of our society on every level so He allows us to run our lives without Him. But this is only a foreshadow of what’s to come with the man of lawlessness, the antichrist. “Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed…” (2 Thessalonians 2:3). 

We cannot be swift to judge or take sides. We do not have all the facts. On the other hand, God call to watch and pray. “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation” (Matthew 26:41a). 

Floyd’s death is being soiled by chaos and anarchy. He is said to have been “a man of peace.” So how does all this violence honor his legacy? Until people choose peace, real compassion, and good actions, healing cannot come. Of course healing comes through Christ. He brings transformation which empowers us to do good, not evil. “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil by good” (Romans 12:21). 

This time of turmoil can better be put to use by comforting broken hearts and doing the work God set before us. Let’s set about  “…making the best use of the time, because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:16).

We are all sinners. We live in a fallen world and evil is increasing daily.  “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). The world can only change as hearts are transformed by Jesus through His freely given salvation which is there for whoever wants it. ““Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Romans 10:13). 

We live in a fallen world and it is only getting worse. The issue is not racism, nor evil agendas although both exist. The issue is the condition of the human heart. The Gospel alone can change that. Let us be busy about our Father’s business and share the good news of salvation. 

Finally, our greatest protest, one that will truly bring change, is done on our knees, not on the streets. “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14). Let’s call on the Father and pray for our nation. 

copyright © June 2020

Janey DeMeo

All Scripture taken from the NIV

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