We’ve had our share of rain lately. At the moment, my backyard is a lake and the street is impassable. We fine inside the house, with the food, medicine, and everything else we need.
I went out for a run the other morning, thinking I could get out and get back, beating the darkness coming from the south. I was wrong, and wound up taking shelter under an office building overhang, waiting for the sheets of rain to slow to the point I could run without drowning. While waiting out the storm, I noticed there were more American flags than normal posted on nearby buildings. Some were probably left from Memorial Day, but many had gone up since the death of George Floyd.
It made me wonder why we put up the flag in turbulent times. Is it a sign of resilience or resistance?
Do we do it because we hate the racism, fear and inequality in this country that has never improved since its birth? Or is it the way for the ignorant to take a stand, show they will think as they wish, say what they want, but hide their ignorance behind a symbol that should stand for better?
There have been protests in my area, though none where it could matter the most: in the mostly white and well-to-do areas of the county, where people have no idea how much nearly nine minutes of one man’s knee to another man’s throat really hurts. Most of the outrage has been in areas already hurt by COVID-19, and business owners there either shut down again or may never open, due to the fear of looting. I don’t advocate violence as a means of getting your point across. You’re part of the problem when you engage in behavior that destroys your own house, and teaches the next generation that the response to a senseless death is senseless rage.
George Floyd’s death did not start the riots. They’ve always been there, buried rage in the hearts and minds of many people. His murder released the rage, and that rage is irreversible.
We can do better. We can vote those who do not want change out of office, and compel those still in office to sit down, listen, and learn. We can get out of our comfort zone and engage, even with social distancing guidelines, and understand the history of hurt and why passive resistance has likely met its match on a Minneapolis street. We can ask how to contribute, and clean up the debris of a nation caught in a long cycle of disrespect, dishonesty, and the dire need to own up to being wrong about so much.
It’s not going back to what it was before. And you can neither run nor hide from what’s next. And you shouldn’t be afraid. There isn’t time for it. We’ve been afraid of each other long enough.