There are some moments in life when you have to choose
When you cannot stand with both sides.
These are the decisions for which history will judge us. Individually and collectively. As a society. As a Community.
These issues are usually of a moral nature, matters that when repeated over and over again, affect the history of mankind, moving it in one direction or another.
In the history books, the issues and the decisions look easy. They are not. It usually takes struggle and great sacrifice to move the needle of progress.
One such historic moment is the murder of George Floyd. It was the barbarity of the act. It was the way it was done, without thinking and especially without feeling.
It was cold indifference. As if the police officer was stepping on the neck of an animal!
This is but one of many moments which have accumulated and have caused violent outbursts in American society amongst African Americans and non-African Americans alike. These events turned an underlying anger into an overflowing river where sediment and debris finally rose to the surface.
And that's the problem. A minority of protesters undermine the majority's calls for justice when they resort to violence. It's throwing more lighter fluid into a fire that almost makes it seem like they are acting on behalf of their opposition, who will then use that behavior to broadly paint them as hooligans. Consequently, the overwhelming messages of peace, justice and equality are buried beneath images of bonfires, boarded up windows and bloodshed.
The big question today is, how will history judge our Greek-American Community in this case? How will the readers of The National Herald judge us, two or three generations from now?
Will they find us on the right side of history – or on the opposite side?
Will they find that we have aligned ourselves with the side that sees every man and woman as a human being, one equal to the others? Or will they see that we judge him differently based on some visible or invisible criteria?
I am glad and relieved to think that history will judge that we have chosen to be with the right side.
For example: Archbishop Elpidophoros posted on social media on Friday afternoon a statement that I characterized, with my own post on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/antonis.diamataris and on Twitter @AHDiamataris, as a "clear, brave, and deeply Christian condemnation of the murder of George Floyd."
The Archbishop's statement reads: "The unjust slaying of George Floyd cannot be where America stands. Violence only breeds violence, but when such violence is perpetrated by those in authority, we must all stand up and say: “Not on our watch!” We must stand against racism and stand for equality for all.”
The statement should be seen in the context of the participation of the late Archbishop Iakovos alongside Martin Luther King in a 1965 civil rights demonstration in Selma, Alabama. An act for which he was so widely abused at the time, but was, of course, justified by history.
Archbishop Elpidophoros did his job in full.
And this has great historical value for both the Church and our Community.
The National Herald, the 105-year-old voice, conscience, and connecting link of the Greek Diaspora, condemned Floyd's murder immediately after the event, in two commentaries, on Wednesday, May 27, and in its weekend edition dated May 30-31. (The murder took place on Monday, May 25).
I express the wish and the hope that our associations, ethnic, regional, and professional, as well as our individual personages, WILL do the same.
A public statement by them would mean a lot.
Let's think about it.