Ever since Nov. 8, 2016, it has felt like things would continue to get worse before they got better — and this has come to fruition. It feels more so like that today than any of the 1,200-plua days previous to this. And sadly, tragically, it’s difficult to imagine the depths to which we might sink than the place we find ourselves in now.
We were in one of those historically transformative moments prior to George Floyd’s death; we have shifted from the transformative to an existentially precarious moment. It would be extraordinarily easy to slip further toward the disassemblage of the American experiment.
It will be much more difficult to do what is imperative, what is required, what we are obligated to do, what the creators of this country charged us to do. And that is to be honest with ourselves about our failures to live up to the ideals of our inception.
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal and endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
George Floyd was denied the right to the pursuit of happiness under the knee of Police Officer Derek Chauvin. He was denied the right to liberty under the knee of Officer Chauvin. Indeed, he was denied his very right to life as it was squeezed out of him under the knee of Officer Chauvin, who took an oath upon assuming his role as a public servant to uphold the rights of the citizens he swore to protect.
On the heels of George Floyd’s rights being trampled upon and stolen from him, another public servant who took an oath to uphold the rights of the citizens he swore to protect unleashed a line of military police on horseback firing tear gas upon a crowd of peaceful protesters exerting the constitutional rights that our founders ensured them. He denied the protesters those rights in order to strut across the street for a photo-op with a Bible with which he is undoubtedly unfamiliar.
We must survive this moment. We must emerge on the other side, more self-aware, more sympathetic to the plight of our fellow citizens, more empathetic to the pain and suffering of those who are denied the rights we all too often take for granted.