Can you recall the experience of waking up for the first time in a new city? Your senses are filled with sights and sounds that you couldn’t easily relay to someone, not without a lot of poetic talent, yet they’re as real to you as a block of wood? You know how you never quite forget those sights and sounds? If you wake up in this city again, even twenty years later, your senses awaken all those memories you didn’t think you had in you anymore.
I was born in a country that does not exist today. I was only a child, but I still remember the world of doublespeak and tyranny, the world of budding freedom, and the world of tragedy and chaos. Like cities, each of these worlds has a sound and a smell. I couldn’t relay them to you here, but they’re very real to me. As real as anything I’ve ever experienced. The smells and sounds that are in the air now are familiar. All the memories I didn’t think I’d remembered are rushing in.
What I can relay to you is that some of these sounds, these smells, these memories are not good. Not good for you, not good for me, not good for the disenfranchised people, not good for George Floyd’s family, not good for the world. The intentions are good, but good intentions aren’t enough– history is littered with countless examples when good intentions led to unthinkable tragedy.
From here, the road we’re collectively on forks into many different paths. Some of them lead to tragedy of unimaginable scale, and some lead to a better world for all of us. Everyone around us– the democrats, the republicans, the protest organizers, celebrities, our political leaders, tech CEOs, Twitter bots, friends, family members– everyone, seems incredibly certain about which path we should take. But among this sea of certainty I feel incredibly uncertain.
There is only one thing I know with absolute certainty, and it’s that nobody– not the democrats, not the republicans, not the protest organizers, not the celebrities, not our political leaders, not the tech CEOs, not Twitter bots, not friends, not family members– nobody, knows which paths lead to tragedy and which paths lead to a just, prosperous world. All of them are pulling us along with absolute zeal and boundless energy, striking iron while it’s hot, many without giving a single thought to the sparks that may ignite America and the planet.
I do not advocate for slowing down the progress of civil rights, or waiting for a more opportune moment, or for staying moderate in the face of injustice. All I ask is that we trust our leaders and our passions a little less, and trust our hearts and our neighbors a little more.
I am an atheist, but I am praying we choose peace and prosperity, not violence and annihilation. Nobody knows the future.