The death of George Floyd deserved a nation’s lament, as well as a united conviction to fight for justice. The great injustice of his death now associated with rampant destruction serves only to compound the tragedy.
As Americans put collective hands to our mouths while watching the death of George Floyd, hot tears filled our eyes and groans escaped our lips.
Watching the sickening video led many to recall a time when we ourselves could not breathe, and a twinge of panic resurfaced. To view another human being in that condition, while a law officer’s knee pressed down on his neck, escalated our innate terror of suffocation to horrific levels. Stunned, a nation desired to stand in solidarity and address the mutual outrage of such a ghastly event.
Yet, as our hearts broke, new terrors tore our gaze away from the murder of George Floyd. Before the tears fell from our cheeks, our cities, institutions, and airwaves erupted in flames. How can one process such grief while fighting off looters, arsonists, and even murderers? When multiple traumas arrive successively, which one do you mourn?
Any combat veteran will share that battlefields postpone grieving – sometimes indefinitely. Although vitally important, mourning remains difficult when fighting for survival. It’s difficult to sit down and break bread together if the restaurant is in flames. The unleashed rage and rampant destruction following the death of George Floyd eclipsed what should have been a time for national grief.
Demands to bow the knee robbed us of the opportunity to bow our heads in united sorrow. We wanted to mourn.
Although grieving remains one of the most keenly felt emotions, all too many flee it in fear. Expressing deep anguish often causes individuals to feel exposed and weak, while rage deceitfully offers the illusion of power. Yet the strength of grief is that it commands greater empathy than unchecked fury.