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How Do We Proceed in the Aftermath of George Floyd?


This past Thursday was George Floyd's memorial service in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Floyd's killing at the hands of police officers set off a national flood of anguish, international protests, and the question, "Now what?" My son, Jaelan, reminded me of a quote attributed to Mark Twain that “History does not repeat itself, but it often rhymes." We discussed the case of Emmit Till, a 14-year old African-American boy who was murdered in August 1955 in a racist attack that shocked the nation. His death provided a catalyst for the emerging civil rights movement.


A Chicago native, Till was visiting relatives in Money, Mississippi, when he was accused of harassing a local white woman. On her deathbed, the woman admitted it never happened. Nevertheless, several days later, relatives of the woman abducted Till, brutally beating and killing him before disposing of his body in a nearby river. Till's devastated mother insisted on a public, open-casket funeral for her son to shed light on the violence inflicted on blacks in the south. Till’s murderers were acquitted, but his death galvanized civil rights activists nationwide.


Those who fought for civil rights gave meaning to Emmit Till’s life. Till’s life was a sacrifice for a bigger purpose. The root meaning of sacrifice means to make something sacred. In the same way, George Floyd's life can be a sacred way to usher in new energy and force a transformational change around the world. Unlike many past protests, the one that followed Floyd’s life helped the world realize we all have skin in the game. The people who showed up to protest George Floyd’s death were a diverse group. They were young people, mature people, black, white, Latino, and Asian – not just black folks. Surprisingly, protests took place around the world, including Berlin, London, Vancouver, British Columbia, capital cities in Africa, Latin America, and the Middle East, to name a few. The point is that racism and inhuman acts toward others, cannot be eradicated by one group. It takes everybody together to demonstrate the consciousness needed to rid the scorn of racism and bigotry.


We don't merely acknowledge the death of George Floyd and pity the family members he left behind. Of course, we empathize and grieve with them. Nor do we want to be just bystanders. Now it’s about our participation. We must ask ourselves, “What is my role in this pivotal point in history?” It starts with consciousness.


I was watching a program in which a panel of spiritual teachers and one of the lawyers for the Floyd family were part of a panel discussion. They were discussing, among other things, what to do. One of the participants on the panel suggested that African Americans tap into their ancestors' vibrational frequency and power. He was referring to the ancestors that were before the Mayflower, the time before the enslavement of Africans. He said that we call upon that energy to lift God's omnipotence and to walk with that kind of empowerment. Other panelists called upon our white brothers and sisters to tap into the great abolitionists' consciousness who said, in essence, "This will not happen on my watch!" As a result, the great abolitionists wrote about it, pushed for laws to help change the country's direction, and risked their freedom.


By answering those callings, we will transcend the ancestral realm and come to a mutual meeting place in the eternal. It will be the place where we are all one, and there will be a downpouring of light where the world as we know it now ends, and a new world is born. It will be a new heaven and a new earth. To get to that new world, we must all ask, “What is mine to do? What is my gift?” We will act from the realization that whatever we do to someone else, we do to ourselves, whatever we say to someone else, we say to ourselves, and whenever anyone is suffering, we are part of that suffering. As Dr. Martin Luther King wrote in his Letter from Birmingham Jail, “We are caught up in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied to a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly." We must hold a space of compassion and seek to eliminate all suffering. We are all in this glorious stew of the cosmos – stirred together to create a delicious dish of spiritual freedom for everyone, as well as beauty and wholeness on this planet.


The good news is this - "We're all in this together."


Peace and Blessings,


James

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