This week we heard of the tragic, untimely death of George Floyd. When these situations come up I find myself doing a lot of thinking, and as I’ve mentioned before I find it therapeutic to put my musings into words on paper.
If you haven’t heard of this case I’ll give a brief overview. Last week a shop clerk called the police and told them he suspected one of his customers was writing a forged check. The police arrived and handcuffed George Floyd, they pinned him down on the tarmac and one of the officers knelt on his neck for 8 minutes. During this 8 minutes George Floyd told the officer he couldn’t breathe multiple times, he begged for water and begged for mercy. The officer continued to kneel on his neck. Passers-by urged the officer to get off his neck and they were threatened with pepper spray. George Floyd then fell unconscious and sadly died.
This death, tragically, is just one of many. Take a look on social media and you will be bombarded by story after story of unwarranted violence against black people from police forces. It is just another indicator of the state of our world today. The death has led to rioting in the streets of Minneapolis and this in itself has led to further violence and sadly more deaths.
It seems that in some societies there is a deeply entrenched racist undertone. One that doesn’t manifest itself in day to day life but hovers over society, entitling one race to privilege and condemning others.
The reason I write about this case in particular is because I have found it so haunting, it was an exhibition of just how cruel our world can be. Sadly, as I’ve mentioned before, it is just one indicator of the state of our world. You don’t have to look too far to see others. Pictures of mile long queues in India as families queue for their one meal per day from a foodbank. A mother in Kenya who stirred stones in a pot to trick her children into thinking she was cooking food in the hope that they’d fall asleep before they realised there was no food coming. An elderly woman in Zambia who cares for her 18 grandchildren by running a small restaurant, now unable to open her restaurant and therefore feed her 18 grandchildren as a result of lockdown.
When we hear these stories I believe there are very few of us who aren’t affected. Now is the time for us to stand up and do something about this. I’ve been so moved by videos of white police officers who have been sent to police the riots, kneeling in solidarity with those protesting. Police officers using their power and influence to stand in solidarity with those who are hurting the most at this time. In Kenya the pastor on the ground who is facilitating the distribution of our food parcels has done it entirely voluntarily. He is in exactly the same position as the people he is distributing food to and yet he has used his position, his time and his efforts to help those in his community who are most vulnerable.
These people who I find so inspirational are just ordinary people, yet they have decided to stand up for those who they are able to help. Their actions may not change the world, they may not have repercussions that ripple on throughout history. Yet they are making a difference to those who need it most and who they are able to help. These people are the real heroes. They haven’t donated millions or built new hospitals or found a cure for cancer, what they have done is stood with the hurting, helped where they could and impacted the lives of people in their community.
It’s many kids dream to be a superhero, to have some sort of super power that enables them to rush around saving people from bad guys and saving the world from an evil mastermind. Many reading this may have come to the conclusion that maybe they won’t be a superhero in this life, possibly because the lycra suit no longer fits after lockdown! However, every day we get the opportunity to be a hero. As the late, great David Bowie put it “We could be heroes, just for one day”. The little we can offer may be the lifeline someone is looking for. We just need to make sure that we are open to seeing the needs of those around us.
So far, as a result of our COVID rapid response fund we have been able to raise over £3,500, with this we have been able to feed over 150 families and this number is still rising. For those 150 families, those parents not knowing how they were going to feed their young children, you were the hero that saved the day. You were the hero that came at the 11th hour and changed their world, if only for a little while. We are hearing of more and more cases of families in need. We are asking if you would consider being a hero to other families who are suffering as a result of the lockdown. One of the overwhelming emotions that comes from these people when we deliver food parcels is gratitude that someone, who they have never met, from the other side of the word has thought about them.
There is a high level of uncertainty, globally, at the moment. People aren’t sure what the next few months or weeks look like. There is, however, one thing we can be certain of, people are scared, people are suffering and people are hurting. This week will provide itself with opportunities to be heroes to those around us. Let’s make sure that we are open to these opportunities and that we act on them, so we can be heroes, just for one day.
Please take a look at our COVID Rapid Response Fund and the other projects we work on.