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The Prerogative of the Brave

The death of George Floyd is a horrific tragedy. He did nothing to warrant the treatment he received from the police which led to his death. Like everyone, I watched the video in complete horror at the abuse inflicted on him, and like many I was enraged. I wanted to do something, anything to put an end to these incidences once and for all. But what can we do? What are the solutions? Has anyone offered one solution? One answer?

For the last 6 days, cities across the country have been under siege by protesters and rioters. Thousands of stores have been looted and burned. The store owners, many of whom are people of color, did nothing to deserve to lose their businesses, their livelihoods. Hundreds of people have been injured, including police officers and secret service agents, some have even been killed.

There has been much talk about injustice this past week, and a call for social justice. Is burning to the ground the store of a person who had nothing to do with George Floyd’s death an act of justice or injustice? Is that a solution or an impediment? The anger, the rage, the desire for retribution is real and understandable, but the target is all-wrong. This is the epitome of a circular firing squad, burning your own cities to the ground, destroying stores and businesses that provide your neighborhoods with goods and jobs only hurts yourself.

If two wrongs don’t make a right, what do 1,200 wrongs make? Does killing an innocent person in protest of the killing of another innocent person make any sense? I do not understand what the riots are accomplishing. You do not build by destroying. You do convince by screaming. You do not win hearts and minds by threatening. And the more destruction and violence committed in the name of George Floyd only serves to tarnish his memory.

Are we all responsible and thus accountable for the evil action of this one police officer? Does this one police officer represent the Unites States of America? Does he represent all police officers? Does he represent all people of his race? Are we going to paint with that broad of a brush? And if we do so in this instance, should we do so in all instances? Does the action of one person who shares the same skin color, gender, religious beliefs of you represent you?

Are these riots our collective punishment? Is that the way it should work? Is this going to lead to any solutions? Every brick thrown through a window shatters our vision of a better future. Every fire lit burns the roadmap to our solutions. Every death kills our chance for unity.

There are evil people in the world. And all the rioting and looting in the world is not going to change the evil into good.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr and Mahatma Gandhi fought and defeated the vilest and most suffocating racial oppression with non-violent resistance. They fought oppression and won in the only way you can; on the spiritual and intellectual level. That is where hearts and minds are changed and won over. Violence and destruction harden hearts and narrow minds. They solidify divisions.

Martin Luther King Jr said, “an eye for an eye, makes everyone blind.”

Gandhi said,” Whenever you are confronted with an opponent, conquer him with love… A coward is incapable of exhibiting love; it is the prerogative of the brave.”

Jesus preached, “love your enemies: Do good to them that hate you, and pray for them that persecute you.” Love is more powerful than hate and violence. Love breaks down the barriers that divide us.

Ask Israel and Palestine how violence has worked for them. Maybe if they threw love over the wall instead of bombs, the Middle East would look a lot different.

I believe justice will be done in this case. There will be a trial, and a conviction. But to the family of George Floyd, and the people in his community that justice does not seem just. They will never see their son, brother, fiancé and friend ever again. So even the harshest punishment will never be a just compensation. But that’s all we can do, the best we can offer. And all we can hope for is that the love we show one another will defeat the evil that lurks among us.

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Judd Garrett is a former NFL player, coach and executive. He is a frequent contributer to the website Real Clear Politics, and has recently published his first novel, No Wind