By Rafi M. Ali, M.D. Director of DarusSalam’s Tadris Integrated Highschool Program
Who can watch the last moments of the life of George Floyd and not be repulsed by the men who pinned his face to the ground and choked his life out? A grown man gasping for air and crying for his mother…we let him down.
When will these people learn the evil of racism? That white is not superior to black. That hatred begets only pain. That four hundred years of slavery was enough. That whippings, lynching, raping, and choking a man to death cannot ever be justified as civilized human behavior. How many more sons must be snatched away from their mothers for such hatred to end?
Anyone with any moral integrity will be justifiably outraged. But we must be careful for hate cannot be vanquished by hate, nor injustice by more injustice. Many individuals, based on video clips that show enough to arouse passions, yet not enough to give a complete or clear account of the incident, have already condemned the four officers guilty and are eager to dispense the punishment. Why then an investigation? Why then a trial? Might as well hang them now!? Would that be civilized?
Anger is justified. Pain is justified. But vengeance is only injustice disguised. The riots may well be the outpourings of decades of pent up frustration and pain…the voice of the oppressed — a rupture of the abscess of injustice. But in response to the death of George Floyd, is it right to attack any white officer that resembles the four? A Jim, a Brown, or another George? Is the entire white race on trial? Are there no white officers who risk their lives daily to protect all — white and black? Who will answer for the life of the white officer whose life was lost as a result of the outpouring of indiscriminate vengeance? A vomitus of sympathy. Was he not a son to a mother? Perhaps a father to a daughter and husband to a loving wife?
This racial discord cannot be bridged except by those who are willing to stand upon the higher moral ground. To see the suffering of all humanity with eyes of compassion. Yes, laws are important. Restitution is important. As Dr. King said, “It may be true that the law cannot make a man love me, but it can keep him from lynching me, and I think that’s pretty important.” But Law can only be the beginning of healing. One cannot bridge the racial divide between blacks and whites by alienating all whites on account of some.
The only way to restore respect for a black person in the hearts of all, is to live a life that shows respect to the integrity of all souls — blacks and whites. Our country has yet to see a leader capable of showing such transcendent “malice towards none” to complete the work that was so painfully started on the battlefields of the Civil War. The price for our reconciliation has already been paid.
A call for compassion for all is not to clothe the coward for show. The foundation of justice is compassion. Did not Prophet Muhammad SAW pray even for his most ardent foes — foes who insulted him, harassed him, tortured his family and loved ones? Why then did he pray for them? Because we must wish well even for our enemies. Until, after all that could be done has been done, the forces are aligned facing each other, and after a final invitation has been given — until then, we must want to win the hearts of our enemies. So far, we have only marched. And marched back home. So far, we have made much noise.
Justice is an easy word to utter, but a difficult one to bring to life. Justice requires sacrifices. It requires sacrifice of time, energy, and money to bring life to the condition of a people. To rebuild neighborhoods. To teach a new generation of children not to hate. To help feed the poor and the homeless. To ease the burden of the mothers. The burdens of the fathers. Justice is a lifestyle. A lifestyle of work, of sacrifice, and concern for all human beings. Are you willing to help?