The senseless death of George Floyd in Minneapolis on Monday night gives rise to emotions that are primal and powerful. Anger. Fear. Disappointment. Rage. Sadness. Helplessness. And we experience all of these emotions at once, as collectively we try to grapple with yet another example of injustice and violation of the most basic and fundamental human right: life itself.
One can acknowledge the role of law enforcement and also condemn behavior that flaunts and dishonors the foundational values of our society. I am outraged by what I saw on the video, and also by what has happened since. We must find a way to stop the violence and the abuse.
Even as we struggle to understand what happened in Minneapolis, we are confronted with a grim and disheartening milestone: more than 100,000 lives lost here in the United States to COVID-19, a number that is almost incomprehensible. And more lives will be lost before this battle is over.
Viktor Frankl, holocaust survivor and psychologist wrote, “The last of one’s freedoms is to choose one’s attitude in any given circumstance.” Frankl reminds us that we still have the capacity to be thoughtful and determined in how we respond to our current circumstances.
I grew up in a church-going family, and one of the things we did in church was sing. I don’t remember how old I was when I learned the song that I’ve been thinking about the last few days, but it seems like I’ve always known it. The first line is “I would be true, for there are those who trust me.”*
My response to events as global as the coronavirus and as specific as the killing of George Floyd is captured in those words: I would be true.
Human life matters, full stop. No exceptions. This is our most sacred responsibility—that people trust us with their lives. Nothing—nothing—can set that aside. This is the foundation of healthcare. This is the foundation of our society. It is elemental.
But it is a value that is under siege by those who would discount the lives of older people simply because they are old. It is a value eroded by those who suggest that those who suffer from an underlying health condition or comorbidity are somehow expendable. It is a value that is being battered by those whose abuse of authority and privilege results in violence against black men and women.
I would be true. In Adventist HealthCare, we affirm the sanctity and value of human life. This is our cornerstone. As an organization with deep roots in a religious tradition that affirms each person as created in the image of God, we condemn any abuse—passive or active, attitudinal or physical—of any person. We are each, and every one, the children of God.
In Psalm 101:2 are found the words that guide us, “I will ponder the way that is blameless. Oh when will you come to me? I will walk with integrity of heart within my house.” (ESV).
“I would be true” is the declaration of our attitude and intent every single day.
*Written by Howard A. Walter, 1906