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The Verdict is in, but The Jury is Still Out

The commitment to social justice, equality, humanity and progress for all as a plan of action to end racism and hatred against minorities should avoid any form of violence.  

Although a court jury’s recent verdict convicting former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin of murder and manslaughter in the death George Floyd has been declared, the jury is still out on how we will comprehensively educate and work to rid our society, nation, and world of racism and prejudice against various ethnicities and minorities.    

But whatever strategies we come up with, violence in any form must never be part of the equation. The famous Trappist monk Thomas Merton said it so very well, “The God of peace is never glorified by human violence.” Violence, in all its many evil forms – including riots – is always harmful and hurtful. 

Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., who consistently preached and lived nonviolence, said in his 1967 “The Other America” speech, “I will always continue to say that riots are socially destructive and self-defeating. I’m still convinced that nonviolence is the most potent weapon available to oppressed people in their struggle for freedom and justice.”

King added, “America has failed to hear that large segments of white society are more concerned about tranquillity and the status quo than about justice, equality, and humanity. Social justice and progress are the absolute guarantors of riot prevention.”  

We must honestly ask ourselves, “Are we truly committed to justice, equality, humanity, social justice, and progress for all?” 

I spoke with Brendan Walsh, co-founder of Viva House – the Catholic Worker House serving homeless, poor people located in southwest Baltimore. Walsh noted that many U.S. corporations had moved their operations from cities like Baltimore, to developing countries where they can get away with the injustice of slave labor, and in the process has left many Americans without decent paying manufacturing jobs.

Walsh believes that every city police officer should be required to live in the city. He said, this would help police to understand better the difficulties faced by many city residents, and in the process, would establish better relationships.

Baltimore’s Catholic Archbishop William E. Lori said it well: “For without love, respect and personal relationships, our lives make no sense. We shouldn’t expect a person whose life makes no sense to pull himself up by his bootstraps into a productive and prosperous life.”

Each of us needs to be part of the solution. Pope Francis said, “My friends, we cannot tolerate or turn a blind eye to racism and exclusion in any form and yet claim to defend the sacredness of every human life.”   

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