Show Us Your Face
After viewing the video of George Floyd's death, Ken grapples with the denial of mercy and his own urgent cry.
I watched the video of George Floyd's death today and was shaken to the core. I cried with deep sorrow for the way that man was treated and killed. He called for his mother while a man mercilessly pressed his knee against his neck. His three partners were there, and they could've worked at getting him into the car and taken away, but they chose to allow the horrendous, humiliating torture and death of that poor man to take place. There was something in the expression of the officer who killed him that was chilling. It was emotionless, like he was some kind of brutal killing machine who was bent on teaching that man and all the witnesses around some kind of lesson or a give them some kind of warning. What lesson? It was power having its way without any mercy. It was void of any humanity. Brutal, senseless. I will not be same after seeing that video.
After a brief reflection, I realized why I had cried—there was no mercy. None. And I am made for mercy. I need mercy. It made it clear that I do not want to live in a world without mercy. It's not worth living in. I want to shout out to the heavens "Mercy! O Lord bring us your mercy! Mercy! Mercy! Mercy!! Dear God do not deprive us—do not deprive ME of your mercy.”
A human being was treated with no mercy. Before any talk of race, riots, justice, kids, education, or whatever, this is what happened, and this is why we were all on a call tonight together. If this hadn’t happened, we would not be having this conversation.
What I also realized as I looked at the expression and actions of that cruel police officer is that that same lack of mercy is in me, but it just manifests itself in other ways, ways that don't take the life of a human being but maybe kill them spiritually. By wielding whatever small power I have, whether at work or at home, I myself act with no mercy toward my wife, my daughter, and my coworkers. How frightening to think of that same lack of mercy operating in me! This chilled me and made me pray "O God, may your mercy live in me so that you prevail! God save me from myself!"
Then I realized where this mercy lives—here, in this friendship. If I look at who we are—not all our individual actions, and works!—but who we are, I recognize this mercy.
From the New York Encounter dialogues with others who are not "like us" to the witness of the openness to the other that I hear over and over again in Susan, Sara, Rita, you, and so many others.
But I don't understand God's method, how He chooses to use time, a lot of time—years, centuries sometimes—to make His Presence prevail. It seems sometimes that this world belongs to the darkness, to the evil one, and only the few enjoy the certainty of God's presence in their lives. Perhaps it's not true and that He is more present in the world than I perceive. We seem so small, so insignificant with our little lives and our little Fraternity with our fliers and judgments, But I think of what Vitta said the other day of how important our little Fraternity is for the destiny of the world, and it makes me wonder. Just maybe, yes, how amazing to think that. But I want to see it! I want to feel in my bones the truth of that. And I don't right now. So maybe a prayer is needed. A continuous begging. Show us your face! Show us your face!!
Ken, Brooklyn, New York