I have read long and hard on the history of policing in the United States. I readily admit that I am no expert.
We rightfully pray for George Floyd in our hearts and minds. We pray for and insist on change in his name and in the name of too many others.
But then there is Derek Chauvin. He is the harder issue to address. I found his actions to be abhorrent. I struggle to even pity him. There is simply no excuse for what he did. Ever. So how do I find a way to pray for him as I will for George Floyd?
There were a number of people involved in George Floyd's death, Chauvin's actions being the most direct. We can debate the societal role in this, we can scrutinize the systemic causes and what they led to — my reading on society's role in this could become a lifelong pursuit in and of itself: starting at the end of slavery (and truly, before), to the 1960s civil rights advances where responses included tanks being sent into Chicago's Black communities, to the overall view that for every advance made by Blacks, there is a heavy push back — it goes on forever, and it is exhausting. I don't say outright that Derek Chauvin is a victim of society's ills (but I do say that George Floyd's death is such an example), though I do feel that an argument can be made as a mitigating factor. What society asks of our police is outlandish, at best.
I am trying my best to hear all sides if only to find a way forward for myself. I have yet to arrive, but I continue to walk forward. As a Quaker lobbyist working on behalf of Quaker tenets, I heard more than I really wanted to hear about how the police felt besieged (their training and their union play a large role in this). When I finally decided that what I was hearing was meant for me to listen to, I began to suggest ways for all participants to come together — that it was in the interests of all involved that we work together and that such work would benefit all. It fell on deaf ears, but I will try again another day.
So I ask — do we pray for Derek Chauvin as well? I believe that the answer is yes, knowing in fact how hard this is. It tears at me, but I must find a way forward. Pick any great teacher — Jesus, Muhammad, Confucius, Buddha, or any other great teacher that leads you to understand. They all say the same thing: it is to the least of us — amongst them the most reviled — that we must tend to. The best way to overcome evil is not to destroy it, but to change it to good. So I will pray for Derek Chauvin. I must.