I’m Going to Talk About George Floyd

You read the headline.  Why am I going to talk about George Floyd?  Because I have to.  Why am I going to use my “health & fitness” blog to talk about this?  Because I believe in a philosophy of health that is based on 3 pillars: Smart, Fit, and Clean.  “Smart” is about mental health and abilities, “Fit” is about the physical side, and “Clean” is about the spiritual.  “Clean” is about having a clean conscience.  You can’t really disentangle these three things anyway.  If I hide from this conversation, it isn’t healthy for me, and if you hide from it, it isn’t healthy for you either.

So, I am going to blog about the George Floyd murder today, and the George Floyd Rebellion that has resulted from it.  I’m gonna say his name and I’m gonna tell you why my opinion on this is nuanced, and personal, and considered, and not just the parroting of someone else’s political or social agenda.  In addition, I am going to be blogging about race and the police every day for as long as these protests are going on.

It is the sustained protests around the world that broke me out of my shell.  I was hiding deep from all this.  It’s not because I don’t care.  I am from a mixed-race family and I have been confronted with race my entire life.  I have also been a victim of police brutality; I was beaten up by police when I was 14 years old.  I married into a black family 12 years ago and I have two black kids.  I also have a lot of friends and former clients in law enforcement, so it’s complicated.

I SHOULD have been saying something about this from the beginning.  But, there’s that problem with the word “should”.  It represents someone else’s priorities for you and whatever comes after “should” doesn’t often sync up with your own priorities and values.  At the time this news came out, my priorities were on the survival of my family, which means getting through the COVID lockdown without completely losing our livelihood or losing our minds.  We didn’t want to fight with people on social media or take to the streets.  We wanted to work and pay our bills and feed our kids, and for everyone to get along.

But now there have been 3 weeks of sustained protests, not just in this country, but around the world.  We don’t watch the news and we don’t listen to the news and we rarely read the news, but it is still penetrating.  The ugliness that America puts out into the world through the media is still penetrating–that same media that I have also worked for in my 20-year on and off again career in film & TV production.  My silence convicts me.

Last night, we watched the Dave Chappelle “8:46” performance on YouTube.  When he described the killing of George Floyd, I broke down in uncontrollable sobbing and tears.  I watched the full video today and I am without words.  No.  I have too many words.  More words than I can possibly control the flow of, and that’s why I’m gonna start slow.

“Thou Shalt Not Kill”

Sound familiar?  Maybe you haven’t heard it enough.  Our oldest written reminder of the most essential human ethics; the basic human right to life carved on a block of stone and mythologized for millennia.  Remember those words.

Human sacrifice used to be common.  Anywhere you went in the world at a certain point in history you could find human beings sacrificing other human beings for their made-up idols of suns and moons and animals.  We don’t do that anymore, do we?

State power over the taking of human life also used to be common.  The Romans once crucified 6,000 slaves along a 200km stretch of the Appian Road.  We don’t do that anymore, either, do we?

Murder over personal disputes was also quite common.  In the absence of a stable system through which to resolve personal grudges and settle debts, human beings killed one another in the streets.  We don’t do that anymore, do we?

But we do.  We want to think that we don’t kill each other wantonly, but we do, we still do.  Why is this wrong?  Why do we all recognize this as wrong?  BECAUSE YOU WOULDN’T WANT IT TO HAPPEN TO YOU.

Thou shalt not kill because you wouldn’t want someone else to kill you.  That’s it.  That’s your ethics lesson for a lifetime.

Watch that George Floyd video and I guarantee you will know that you wouldn’t want someone to kneel on your neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds–despite your protests and those of onlookers–and leave you dead.  After watching the video, you might want someone to do it to Derek Chauvin, but if you pause with that thought and consider it–no–that’s not really what you want.  You want him to not have done it in the first place.  You want him to have some basic respect for human life.  You want him to see himself in his victim, to recognize the man’s humanity, to consider how it would feel to be in that position, and to take a different course of action.

You want him to remember that, “thou shalt not kill.”  And he didn’t remember.  He killed the man.

That’s why WE have to remember.  We have to talk about it.  We have to remind our kids.  We have to reform our institutions.  We have to remember, forever, that THOU SHALT NOT KILL, and we have to live it.



Published by nicnakis

Nicholas |nik-uh-luhs| n. a male given name: from Greek words meaning "victory of the people" John |jon| n. a male given name: from Hebrew Yohanan, derivative of Yehohanan "God has been gracious" Nakis |nah-kis| n. a Greek family name derived from the patronymic ending -akis (from Crete) Amha |am-hah| n. an Ethiopian given name meaning "gift", from Geez Selassie |suh-la-see| n. Ethiopian name meaning "trinity", from Geez

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