[Column] “I can’t breathe,” the haunting final words of George Floyd

2 min read2,388 views and 31 shares Posted June 1, 2020

To help bring our community together in a time of extreme polarization, LebTown has invited a variety of community leaders to share columns this week on the topic of unitedness and healing.

We feel this topic is important to discuss given the unprecedented protest activity we witnessed across the nation last week, as well as the increased stress felt right now by many due to the ongoing public health and economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

If you would like to submit your own column to LebTown, please start by reading our guidelines here.

In Minneapolis this week, a senseless death occurred. George Floyd’s final words are haunting, “I can’t breathe.” What a horrible and public death. The nation mourns with the Floyd family. How can we stop this injustice?

Advertisement

Name calling and street violence should have no place in the United States of America. Where has our civility gone? You and I have the opportunity and power to set an example for other adults, and our children. If someone is hurtful to you, think of a positive line for a response. For example, “Jesus loves you, and so do I.” If it sounds preachy, this is what God places on my heart and mind.

We can also find the Beatitudes in the Bible: Be patient. Be gentle. Be humble. Be loving. Be kind. Be a peacemaker. These are a reminder of how we should treat each other. Listen when someone speaks, especially when their heart is breaking. We all have value. It’s already a lonely time due to Coronavirus. Losing loved ones is hard. I lost my mother-in-law Ruth during this time. People have shown kindness with their words, by sharing stories about Ruth, and sending cards.

Now imagine losing someone to violence. The hurt. The pain. It must seem unbearable. We need to pray for healing for the Floyd family, for our country.

Advertisement

Looking back, when I was a child, my mother regularly took me to Sunday school and church. I cherished those times, and remember many of the songs that I learned—Jesus Loves Me, Jesus Loves the Little Children….

Think about the words for a moment—“Jesus loves the little children, all the children of the world. Red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in his sight. Jesus loves the little children of the world.”

We are all God’s children. We should treat each other with kindness and respect. It doesn’t matter if you are man or woman, adult or child, black or white, rich or poor, Democrat or Republican…. God doesn’t make any junk. He has a purpose for each one of us here on this earth. Treat each other this way.

Advertisement

One purpose that you can choose is to be a light in this world. Express yourself with a random act of kindness. Make a phone call, and ask if there’s anything someone needs. Cry with them. Send them a card or flowers. Mow their grass. Take them groceries, or drop off a meal. Pray with them.

If their hurt is prejudice, condemn it. If someone is being treated unfairly, stand up to injustice, and stand beside them. Organize a peace rally. Be responsible, and above all, help them breathe, both literally and figuratively. In closing, if you’re breathing, you’re still in the race. Help others breathe too.

Jo Ellen Litz is a six-term Lebanon County Commissioner. She also serves as the President of the Swatara Watershed Association.

Advertisement

More Stories