I’ve just come back from watching protesters march down Fifth Avenue, a block from my house, rightfully outraged over the brutal death of George Floyd, in Minneapolis, this past Monday.
The crowd was mixed, meaning not just people of color. I saw a vet I know walking beside a priest, and a group of well heeled high school kids waving small white flags. A mother with 4 kids carried a sign…
BLACK LIVES MATTER!
Police stood vigil.
Unlike the protests in Brooklyn, there was no violence, yet unrest lurked in the air.
Our country right now is like a raw nerve, the virus causing us not to be at our best. Certainly not an excuse, but a gentle explanation.
I walked to The Church of Saint Thomas More that’s still open for private prayer.
I went in and lit three candles.
One for George Floyd, one for our country, and one for Bobby Kennedy who was suddenly very much alive in my mind.
I saw him on the back of that flat truck, speaking to a crowd that had yet to learn of the death of Martin Luther King, earlier in Memphis. Though late, they had waited for him in the rain since, alongside Dr. King, he was their hero.
He was told not to go, it would be too dangerous, but he went anyway, disregarding the notes his speech writer scrawled on a napkin.
Instead, Bobby spoke from his heart.
April 4, 1968
I have bad news for you, for all of our fellow citizens, and people who love peace all over the world, and that is that Martin Luther King was shot and killed tonight.
Martin Luther King dedicated his life to love and to justice for his fellow human beings, and he died because of that effort…
What we need in the United States is not division; what we need in the United States is not hatred; what we need in the United States is not violence or lawlessness; but love and wisdom, and compassion toward one another, and a feeling of justice toward those who still suffer within our country, whether they be white or they be black…
Let us dedicate ourselves to that, and say a prayer for our country and for our people.
Yes, history repeats itself.
Two months later, he too, would be no more.
God grant me the serenity, to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.