Every month, I choose a new word to center on. It’s easy. Just select a concept I want to focus on in the coming weeks, write it on my chalkboard to keep it “present” in my mind, and post about this effort occasionally in my reader group.
But recently, things got complicated.
It started with the horrifyingly unjust and unnecessary death of George Floyd, but the problem didn’t begin there. Racism and its ugly children, Hatred and Violence, have plagued our country from the beginning. Anywhere a member of the majority looked at a member of the minority and judged them as ‘less than,’ it was already there.
It doesn’t make me feel better to note that racism is an all-too-human trait. It crops up in most civilizations at some point, and in fact, humans have been treating each other as ‘less than’ throughout human history. All it has ever taken is that the ‘other’ look or speak, or dress differently than the majority, or even the privileged minority. But it has never been uglier than on the day when a uniformed officer knelt on the neck of Mr. Floyd for nearly ten minutes, until Mr. Floyd died.
Next came the understandable and reasonable protests. And some have used those protests to further their own agenda by turning them into riots. Cities began to burn.
There are steps that can and should be taken, first to get justice for George Floyd. All four officers involved should be tried for murder. And when they are, I hope they are convicted. But, if we are to prevent future atrocities of this nature, we can’t let that be the end of it.
We need to go further.
The protests are a start. Individuals of good conscience who possess privilege need to use it in whatever way they can to combat racism where they live. Law enforcement screening and training needs to be implemented to address systemic racism in our police forces. The same should be done in our educational system.
Sadly, we can’t wipe out racism in a single generation through education. The issue is far more complicated than that.
But we have to start somewhere.
So, I want to begin with my word of the month. But I’m not sure what to pick.
We need to be brave enough to change.
But before we can change,
we have to listen with respect to those who are being harmed.
We have to understand their pain, their position,
and commit to support their efforts with work of our own.
We need to show kindness to our hurting siblings so that
we can help to improve their reality, and our own response to it.
But, perhaps, this can all be summed up in one word. One syllable that incorporates the need for bravery, change, listening, respecting, understanding, commitment, support, kindness and improvement.
This month, and I hope for the rest of my life, I choose that one word.
I choose LOVE.