It’s was a warmer-than-average May night in Salt Lake City, Utah. The governor had just authorized an emergency alert stating that a public curfew was in effect for Salt Lake City due to violent riots that broken had out. Riots. In Salt Lake City.
Rewind a few days. May 25th, George Floyd, a mostly anonymous man, was arrested for allegedly buying a pack of cigarettes with a counterfeit $20 bill. During the arrest, Officer Derek Chauvin knelt on Mr. Floyd’s neck until he lost consciousness and eventually died. Medical examiners deemed the death not caused by traumatic asphyxiation but other underlying medical conditions.
The internet was suddenly flooded with bystander videos and security camera footage of what has officially been charged a third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter committed by Derek Chauvin.
Later that evening, riots broke out in Minneapolis. As word of Floyd’s murder spread across the country, peaceful demonstrations and violent riots broke out in more than 140 cities, leading governors in 21 states to activate the National Guard.
The New York Times has created a live update page on the protests and riots here.
While I am definitely in the privileged white male category of people, I do understand sadness, anger, and pain. I understand that sometimes violence is the answer.
While what happened to Mr. Floyd is tragic, I don’t believe this is one of those times. I believe that Derek Chauvin and the other arresting officers deserve to be punished to the full extent of the law. I believe the punishment should be swift, but I also know this will likely be a case that gets drawn out for far too long and that every. minute. detail will be analyzed, re-analyzed, and commented on by the national news media. I believe Mr. Chauvin will become famous for all the wrong reasons. I think it’s likely that Mr. Chauvin’s family will be persecuted though they had nothing to do with Mr. Chauvin’s senseless act.
History will remember 2020 for a lot of reasons. Russell M. Nelson called this a “pivotal year”. There have been few times in history when so many people have felt so much anxiety, fear, depression, sadness, pressure, and anger. Sometimes all in the same moment.
There are a lot of people hurting needlessly these days. Good, integrity-filled police officers and National Guard women and men are putting their lives at risk to stop violent riots. They didn’t do anything wrong. Until moments before violence broke out, many of the people in the riots were largely anonymous citizens as well who had never broken a law worthy of arrest. Now, there are thousands of people who have arrest records who didn’t have one before. There are law enforcement officials whose families are being persecuted.
Even though I live some 15 miles outside of Salt Lake City, I have watched with some anxiety what’s going on. I have a family that I work hard to keep safe. I teach them love for all people, even those who don’t do right by them. I teach them patience, tolerance, and the need to meet others where they are. I teach them that it’s never okay to persecute others. I teach them that all of us — everyone — is a child of God.
Children of God. As a society, we’re not behaving ourselves very well.
This is why I choose faith.
I look at faith in Jesus Christ as the only true panacea to life’s challenges. While I know faith in Him won’t take away all the suffering in the world — we are mortal after all — I do believe needless suffering would disappear if people would embrace Him.
I’m certainly not ignorant to the fact that so much evil has been done in the name of Jesus Christ through the centuries.
I believe in Jesus Christ as a beacon of peace, hope, forgiveness, tolerance, understanding, and love. I believe that faith in Him leads people to seek to understand.
For me, embracing Jesus Christ as my brother, my Savior, and my friend, I find peace in turbulent times. Faith in Him gives perspective; a long-term view of our present reality as well as unimaginable blessings that can be mine if I’m faithful. I know He expects me to be loving, accepting, tolerant, kind.
One of my favorite scriptural passages comes from a prophet named Alma who gave what some have called the greatest discourse on Jesus Christ’s Atonement in holy writ. These are, most definitely, words to live by.
“And now I would that ye should be humble, and be submissive and gentle; easy to be entreated; full of patience and long-suffering; being temperate in all things; being diligent in keeping the commandments of God at all times; asking for whatsoever things ye stand in need, both spiritual and temporal; always returning thanks unto God for whatsoever things ye do receive.
“And see that ye have faith, hope and charity, and then ye will always abound in good works.”
Good works are the promised outcome of actionable faith in Jesus Christ.