“And you, you’ve gone too far this time
You have neither reason nor rhyme
With which to take this soul that is so rightfully mine.”– Marcus Mumford
There is another haunting line in the song I references above. It says, “darkness is a harsh term don’t you think. Yet it dominates the things I see.” I debated using that line instead as the jumping off point, but this one seemed more appropriate. Occasionally, we come to a collective moment where our personal souls become intertwined with the soul of the nation.
This is one of those times. As I write this, the Derek Chauvin verdict has not gone down. I imagine it will by the time you read this. So, a lot of what I say here will be rendered either moot or prescient depending on the outcome. Yet, it seems we are having more and more of these moments as a nation. The last two presidential elections were similar moments. Despite what it might seem, very few elections produce a similar moment.
They are moments where we get to decide who we are and what we are about as a whole nation. That’s an awesome responsibility for twelve people to take, but they have taken that responsibility upon themselves. They get to decide what the story will be for the next several days if not the next several weeks.
I didn’t hear the evidence and I wasn’t a witness to the crime. So, anything I say has to be taken with that in mind. Yet, I think we all know the score here. Chauvin is guilty. The only question will be whether those jurors have the courage to say so. Like I said, as I write this that issue is in doubt. I’m not a legal analyst, so I have no idea what going into a second day of deliberations means. I don’t know if it’s normal, good for the prosecution, or good for the defense. I guess I could quote a Law & Order episode, but that is hardly compelling evidence.
All I know is what’s at stake. Either we stand up as a people and hold everyone accountable for their actions or we don’t. Either we acknowledge that some people can and have abused the awesome authority we give them or we don’t. Either we acknowledge that life is different and more dangerous for people of color or we don’t. Either we stand up in one clear voice and demand better or we don’t.
We’ve been down this road before. As a kid I remember the Rodney King incident and the subsequent trial. I remember the same excuses then as the ones we are getting now. He was high. He was a criminal. He got what he deserved. At least King didn’t die. Bones mend and bruises heal. He should consider himself lucky. You know the drill.
Those alive then also remember the subsequent riots well. Representative Maxine Waters was at the heart of it then and she finds herself at the heart of it now. Majorie Taylor Greene wants her expelled for her comments. Pot, meet kettle. If we back away and think, we get the anger. We understand the rage and we empathize. This has all the look of one of those moments where rage just my boil over.
It is also one of those situations that forces us to choose sides. Many of us are content to stand on the sidelines and I get it. We just want to all get along. Usually that’s admirable, but this time around it’s ducking our responsibility as thinking and caring humans. Either we are for equal justice under the law or we aren’t. It’s time to choose a side.