We kneel for George Floyd

We kneel for George Floyd

Bending one knee and kneeling on the other is an acknowledged sign of agreement, of devotion to a faith or cause, and of friendship with those of the same mind. As with all signs it can be done sincerely or cynically, same as holding up a bible in front of a church in Washington – an act of such blatant cynicism that it is difficult to forgive or expunge it from the memory. Bending one knee is also an act of worship to something you believe in enough to show it publicly.

We have seen thousands of such acts in the last few days. They have been truly moving, touching the heart-strings of those who did it and of those who watched it. Plenty of people have followed suit. Plenty have not. Across the United States, souls are being searched for what is seen as a balance between fairness and dangerous risk. Few like the old order changing. We cut our groove to stay the same for the rest of our lives. Disrupting that groove is painful.

The high heat of summer brings frayed tempers whether protester or police. Lockdown exacerbates those moods. All our sympathy and support is for the black man and woman but, also, I wouldn’t want to be an American white policeman at such a time. They appear to be trained to react with violence in a society so accustomed to it that any other reaction is thought to be weak. It seems as though nobody has explained to America yet that real strength is gentleness, that defusing a boiling situation leads to less hurt than turning up the gas.

The USA demonstrations have mostly turned peaceful and, in the process, demonstrated the very point that peace is power. If ‘Floyd Kneeling’ helps to modify the partisan nature of US politics it will have made a great contribution to America’s future. And to our future wherever we are in the world. The cause of freedom of speech is more important than anything else in this world. When used properly it has served the human race as the first benchmark of fairness.

We cannot all join the protest marches taking place across many parts of the world. We need to show our solidarity with them, however. Our hope that George Floyd will be the last balck person unlawfully killed by the police, or oppressors of a different sort, is a forlorn one, I fear. The movement started by Martin Luther King, and reignited now, must not just ‘settle down’ as some politicians would like. It must not disappear from our thinking, either.

I suggest that each of us makes whatever effort is necessary to spend just one minute on one knee in the course of the next few days. During that minute we could think of the order of life we want to leave our grandchildren and great grandchildren. Such a pause is the least we can do as our contribution to eradicating entrenched institutionalised racism, wherever it is found. We do not seek forgiveness, we seek correction.

The sun will rise again across the Potomac River. America is too important to disappear under an issue that can be put right. Decent people will once again govern, guns will eventually be outlawed and people will be trained to make life friendly and fun again. Old standards won’t come back but new standards to endorse freedom and collegiality will become the norm. America will become great again and we shall all be proud to stand for the Star-Spangled Banner.

And to kneel for a moment in memory of George Floyd and of those who no longer can.