Verdict statement in George Floyd trial

April 21, 2021
By Bishop Leonard Fairley

What is the appropriate response when a watershed moment for justice is carried out?
I am grateful that the judicial system worked. However, I must confess, I am saddened that it came to this because a person who should be alive is no longer breathing. There have and will continue to be many lives caught up in the death of George Floyd, including the countless forgotten names throughout history who died under similar tragic and unjust circumstances. The moral universe weeps. God’s weeping is as it should be when a living soul is cheapened by callous disregard for human life.
I pray we all find ourselves at a place of lament with any senseless, avoidable death caused by injustice, violence, or oppression of any kind.  Repeatedly watching the very moment George Floyd took his last breath has taken tremendous strength.  What do we do now?  What do we do after the media are gone and the sensationalism has died down?  When the words BREAKING NEWS no longer roll across the television screen? We are excellent sprinters at practicing and talking about love, peace, and justice when the spotlight is on.  What is critical are the choices we make when the media are not around to give us our 15 minutes of fame, or when the luster of eloquent statements (like this one) and sound bites lose their passion.  How we live together when the world is not watching is what really matters.
Unfortunately, it will take more than our judicial system to teach us how to love each other as brothers and sisters. While our hearts find comfort in justice done, it will take more than the rule of law. “[T]he law cannot make a man love me, but it can keep him from lynching me, and I think that’s pretty important. …” (Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.).
Something deeper than the law must be our guide. Until we discover the courage to live together as brothers and sisters, where all life is counted as sacred, the appropriate response to justice done is a deep hope rooted in the words of two biblical prophets: “But let justice run down like water, And righteousness like a mighty stream” (Amos 5:24 NKJ).  “He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8 NRSV).
In Christ,

Bishop Leonard E. Fairley