Our country has been a tinderbox for decades — and the last three-and-a-half years have been a slow, steady, daily burn of anxiety, dread, anger, and pain. Adding severe strain to an already volatile situation and vulnerable population, a deadly pandemic came along and pressed us even more. Job loss. Fear. Insecurity. Isolation. Debt. Disparity. Disease. Death. Severing our already-tenuous connections — as fellow Americans, as fellow human beings — we chose divisiveness, disdain, denial, mockery, and blame. Mirroring a small, selfish Twitter troll, we became no better in our rhetoric, perspective, and actions. And then…George Floyd. They killed him, and it broke us. And it should have.
[Tweet “George Floyd. They killed him, and it broke us. And it should have.”] But it is precisely our shared shock, sadness, and outrage that have the potential to put us together again. We are not indifferent. We are not complacent. We are not apathetic. We witnessed. We saw. We snapped — understandably so. It is exactly because our vision, our expectation, our hope for a just and compassionate world has been thwarted that our anger is fueled. If we didn’t believe such a world was possible — and self-evident — we would be indifferent. But we are not. And for that I am grateful. In that I am hopeful.
The question now is not “What have we done?” But “What will we do?” “What do we want?” and “Who do we want to be?” The answers to these questions reflect our character and determine our destiny — both individually and collectively — and I’m both terrified and hopeful for the future. It’s in our hands. And no one else’s. It always has been. And it always will be.