The Violence of Silence
Warning: This article is meant to be read in it's entirety and comes from a Christian perspective.
This week the name on everyone's lips and minds is George Floyd. If you haven't seen the news, George Floyd was an unarmed man that was arrested by Minneapolis police, however one of the officers, Derek Chauvin, was kneeling on his neck during the arrest. George Floyd wasn't resisting. He cried for help and told the officer he could not breathe, but Chauvin continued to kneel on his neck while his partner's watched. Floyd eventually went motionless as Chauvin continued to kneel on his neck and bystanders cried out for the police to take action to help Floyd.
George Floyd was pronounced dead later that day.
The death of George Floyd has pushed every tension in the United States to the edge and brought it all to the forefront of our news feeds. This tragedy became the platform for #blacklivesmatter but it also became a firing range for #protectthepolice. On social media, it is a battle ground for the left and the right and everybody is choosing sides.
What I would like to ask you is: why choose a side at all?
It seems like everything in our day and age has to be black or white, for or against, this or that. You are either for the death penalty for those police officers or you are racist. Either you are for the police or you aren't American enough. You are for X or you are Y. Because you must stand for things in the way that media, culture, or people decide they should be stood for.
And that's where I disagree.
As I asked around my friend group and work colleagues, most of them had pretty decent experiences with the police, yet we all agreed what happened to George Floyd was unacceptable and there should be justice for his wrongful death. The police were wholly unethical and completely abused their power in that situation, but interestingly enough, none of the people in my sphere said that police altogether were bad.
The people I talked to were white, black, Christian, atheist, middle aged, millennial's, former military, regular people, democrats, and republicans.
They were the silent middle.
The world seems to operate in a binary fashion. You have to be X or Y but most people don't do that. They understand that you can be for people but against a situation. You can be for police but against the police that arrested and killed George Floyd. You can be for people of color but against a black murderer. You can be in the middle of the left and right. But they were also the silent ones.
Even in my sphere of people, the ones who were heard the most were the extremists. The people who operate in a black and white world. That shouldn't be the case because in reality, they are the minority.
By not speaking up and voicing reason in terrible situations, we've all allowed our culture to become a place where you must be X or Y. We have done incredible harm to our friends, our communities, and even ourselves by allowing the loudest to lead. More than anything, I would argue that we are at fault for the way our media and culture are being shaped because we have chosen to do nothing a majority of the time.
Now I'm not encouraging people to go on Facebook or Instagram and start picking fights because we all know, nobody ever changes their mind from a social media argument. What I am saying is that as these conversations come up, we have a responsibility to voice reason and outrage. To argue that the police are generally a good thing to have, but that justice should always be sought.
And it starts here, with George Floyd. To speak up and not let his death go unnoticed or unpunished, but also to prevent our friends and family from going to places that reason would never let them go.