Derek Chauvin Pleads For Mercy

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A friend of mine texted me that Derek Chauvin had asked his judge to shorten his prison term. I wasn’t expecting the former officer would do so but here’s my take on it.

Mercy has to be earned. 

Mr Chauvin was reckless as he abused George Floyd in plain sight, with others filming him, even warning him that the man might not survive the oppressive knee. And yet Mr Chauvin thought he was doing his job.  

Never mind that George Floyd was not a threat, for he was lying prone on the ground, handcuffed behind his back, begging for relief.

Mr Chauvin still kept the knee on.

That he persisted, undeterred by the cries for him to cease, sparked turmoil in the nation and took the former officer to court where he was found guilty of 2nd degree unintentional murder, 3rd degree murder and 2nd degree manslaughter.

Mr Chauvin has a right to ask for mercy, but mercy has to be earned.

His request can be seen as a first step in the long journey ahead in search of his humanity. The humanity he had been running away from all of his life and the absence of which was most glaring the day he took George Floyd’s life. 

How he became the man he became only Mr Chauvin knows. 

We hope he will tell us one day. 

Throughout his career, he appears to have done little to try and overcome his flaws. And if they were noticed by his superiors, little of consequence was done to urge him to check them.

And so, in a way, the tragedy of May 25th 2020, was inevitable. 

It could have happened any other day or to any other person, but that was the day he arrested George Floyd.

Seeing Mr Chauvin in his suit, seated next to his lawyers in the court room, evoked a certain sadness. There he was, without his uniform to protect him, without his badge to insulate him from life.

It is very sad to see a grown man not challenge himself to learn the plight of those whom he dealt with in the course of his work.

Only now, after repeatedly viewing the clip of his killing George Floyd, has Mr Chauvin begun to realize what he did. 

Only now, then, is he starting on his journey to become a human being.

Mercy has to be earned and Mr Chauvin should begin immediately on his task.

If you are reading this, here are some suggestions to you:

Start a journal where you write down all your feelings and thoughts. It is an exercise in listening to yourself. As you learn to do so, you also learn to listen to others.

Read stories about people’s sufferings. All people’s sufferings, no matter what their race, to learn how they came to understand their pain and overcome it.

As you do you will begin to put together your own story. The story of how you grew so insensitive to the suffering of others and how you came to devalue them. 

Just like you were blind and deaf to the suffering of others, there are other police officers out there who are just as blind and deaf as you were.

Reach out to them. Try to educate them. Encourage them to connect with their higher selves.

As you do, you will be helping them exercise better judgment in the field and in their lives. And they will be grateful.

Write to them and let them write to you.

Your journey to find your sense of compassion will then assist other officers in finding theirs.

And you will be saving lives. 

Save the letters of appreciation you receive and one day you may wish to share them with the family of George Floyd. And perhaps one day they will choose to advocate for your release.

Whether they do or not, you must start to rebuild your life by repairing your mistakes.

And you must do it for you. For your sanity. For your wisdom.

You are a young man. Build yourself up as a compassionate human being. 

Work hard, Mr Chauvin, and never give up.

If not too damaged and if circumstances are not overwhelming, we can choose our fates.

Dare to do so.  

And maybe your efforts to earn mercy will become an inspiration for the rest of us.

Dare to transform yourself.

Good luck and best wishes. 

Oscar Valdes.     Oscarvaldes.net

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We All Have to Own Our Pain. Nations Do Too

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All of us have to own the pain that comes from living. 

The pain that comes from not having what we want, even though we have worked hard for it.

The pain of living that comes from realizing that nature gave us so much and that is it. 

The pain of living that comes from recognizing others have more than we do. 

The pain that comes from not having behaved as we would have liked to.

The pain of living that will not go away and yet we must learn to manage.

To manage it we have to look at it. Squarely. In detail.

And if we at first flinch or turn away, we then must take a deep breath and look again.

Look again till we understand it. 

And then accept it.

Accepting it does not mean the pain will go away. 

We accept so we can learn from it.

Every single one of us has to look at their own pain. No one can spare us from it. 

If they offer to, say ‘thank you but no, thanks’.

Facing our pain is at the core of the journey for existence each of us embarks in when we come to this world.

Yes, it has moment of beauty. Even happiness. Moments.

And like individuals, so with nations.

Nations are more than a collection of individuals, just like the liver is more than a collection of liver cells. To make up the liver they have organized themselves according to various functions for the sake of a purpose.

And that sum total of individuals that come together to form a nation bring their individual pain with them, which adds up to the total pain of the nation.

And the pain has to be looked at. Squarely. In detail.

The pain has to be looked at again and again until we get it. We as in the people and We as in the nation.

Sharing our individual pain with another human being offers comfort, soothing and perspective. But it is our individual pain. 

No one can suffer for you. 

We need our pain so we can improve ourselves. Push harder. Try and be the best we can be. 

Our pain is a catalyst for action. It spurs us to growth. To take chances. And when accomplishment comes then we realize what great soother it is. 

But it won’t erase the pain. 

It helps manage it.

Nations that don’t look at their pain cannot reach their potential. 

Leaders who don’t help us look at our pain are not leaders.

They are in it for personal gain or for the gain of a special group.

There is no forward movement without owning our pain, which if allowed to grow becomes rage. 

We cannot own our rage unless we understand it.

When pain or rage owns us we cannot direct it properly, and so pain not owned may lead us to blame others for our distress. And so pile additional pain upon their pain. 

A nation that does not dialogue with itself is a nation that has preferred to blame others instead.

In America, the dialogue about race has been forever postponed, and it is only now moving up to the top of the list where it belongs because of circumstances.

If a young man had not videotaped the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, we would not have known the fullness of our anger and the officer who pinned him down until he died would have been back on the beat, searching for someone else to pin down.

Even with that, if it had not been for the coronavirus, we would have reelected the previous president.

Think about it.

If we would have reelected our previous president we would have continued to be distracted by tweets and temper tantrums, and we would have postponed, again, talking to ourselves and to others about our pain. 

Pain that is not looked at and understood becomes rage.

Think about it.

Oscar Valdes

Oscarvaldes.net

Trump and Putin. Early September, 2020.

Trump is in the Oval Office, standing by his desk.

He gets a call from his secretary.

Secretary – Putin on the line. Would you like to take the call?

Trump – Sure.

The call goes through.

Putin – Donald!

Trump – Vlady! Great to hear your voice, as always.

Putin – Great to hear you too.

Trump – Just heard the news about the Germans saying that Alexey Navalny was poisoned by your people.

Putin – I didn’t do it.

Silence.

Putin – You don’t believe me?

Trump – I’ve always trusted you, Vlady… something about your persona that I find reassuring.

Putin – Thank you.

Trump – But the Germans did identify that nerve agent… Novichok.

Putin – I didn’t do it. But let me ask you, because I know you’ll understand, is there any way that we can control everybody that works for us?

Trump – Of course not.

Putin – Exactly. I don’t doubt that Navalny was poisoned, the Germans have doctors as good as yours and mine, but I assure you I didn’t give the order.

Trump – You’ve always inspired great confidence, so I believe you.

Putin – Donald… you bring tears to my eyes…  truly… that means so much to me. Thank you.

Trump – My pleasure. How’s everything?

Putin – The reason I called is… I’ve been feeling a little hurt.

Trump – Oh, no, something I did?

Putin – Something you didn’t do.

Trump – Please, tell me.

Putin – You know how, just last week, we announced that we had the first vaccine against the virus…

Trump – Tremendous breakthrough. Congratulations.

Putin – Why haven’t you asked for help from me?

Trump is silent.

Putin – You only have to ask and I’ll give you first priority. I’ll have my scientists make you 50 million doses so you can take care of your vulnerable populations. Why haven’t you asked?

Trump – Vlady… first of all… on behalf of the American people, thank you for that generous offer. It goes to show the quality of your government. I really mean it. The thing is… my scientific community has doubts that you could’ve arrived at the vaccine so fast.

Putin – I’ve had brilliant researchers working on it day and night. We have everybody on a strict schedule. 9 am to 9 pm for 6 days a week. Sundays off. Sorry, every other Sunday.

Trump – Amazing. But Vlady… it would not look good. Imagine… ‘America saved by Russia.’ That’s how the New York Times would title the article making the announcement. Just to hurt me. I’m in the final stage of this election… I thought the virus had beat me but now things are getting better and I think I’ll get reelected. I cannot take any chances.

Putin – Even if my vaccine would be saving thousands and thousands of American lives?

Trump – (hesitates at first) … even so.

Putin – Donald… Russia wouldn’t be doing it for the publicity… that’s secondary… we’d be doing it because of our love for all in need.

Trump – Of course. Yes. But… well… I’ve got very lucky lately… I thought I was sure to lose on account of the virus and now, suddenly, things have turned my way. So, like we say over here, I don’t want to push my luck.

Silence.

Putin – I thought that you did a masterful job handling the virus.

Trump – Thank you, Vlady. I appreciate it. But I think I was a little slow. Thankfully, though, unexpected events have come to assist me.

Putin – What is that?

Trump – The racial protests.

Putin – Ah, yes.

Trump – The looting, the burning of property, the chaos… I couldn’t have asked for anything better. Unbelievable. My numbers are rising steadily. I’m making up ground. The Democrats are catching on, though, I think they’re bribing the protesters to stop, but even so, we now have all that footage we can play over and over again. It’s going to be beautiful.  

Putin – I’m so glad for you.

Trump – You’re staying on, of course…

Putin – Russia needs me.

Trump – Of course, like America needs me.

Putin – Law and Order. Like Assad in Syria, El Sisi in Egypt, MBS in Saudi Arabia, Duterte in Manila… yes… law and order.

Trump – You forgot Xi…

Putin – I did, didn’t I? Well, he’s one of the best.

Trump – It’s as if Mother Nature, in its infinite wisdom, had decided to bring all of us together at the same time.

Putin – You forgot Netanyahu.

Trump – Oops, I did. Yes, my great friend Bibi. May he reign for another 50 years… so he can see the West Bank finally annexed by Israel. What a glorious day that will be.

Putin – Actually, I disagree with you on that one.

Trump – Okay, we’ll talk about it later.

Putin – How come you didn’t invite Romney to speak at the Republican convention?

Trump – (laughs) Funny. He’ll have to do a lot begging before he gets an invitation from me.

Putin – A great show the convention was. And you were superb. All your family was just beautiful. America is so lucky to have you. The world, in fact.

Trump – Thank you, Vlady.

Putin – Have you thought of making one of your children Secretary of State?

Trump – What a marvelous idea. No, I hadn’t.

Putin – I would be one way of spreading your brand.

Trump – Of course.

Putin – And grooming him or her for the succession.

Trump – Brilliant, Vlady, just brilliant.

Putin – I’ve been following the events in your country… and I think Biden wouldn’t have selected the lady as Vice President if it hadn’t been for the racial protests.

Trump – You’re probably right. But, in his defense, he’s been in bed with African Americans for a long time. Plus, he’s a closet socialist. I’ll bury him in the debates. They’ll have to call the paramedics.

Putin – Now that we’re on that subject, something popped up in our screens here at the Kremlin the other day.

Trump – (very curious) What are you talking about?

Putin – A video clip…

Trump – What about?

Putin – Biden’s VP…

Trump – That woman…?

Putin – Right… in the middle of the night… in Minneapolis… with just her security detail around her… all very secretive… at George Floyd’s memorial… saying to George… ‘Thank you, George… if it hadn’t been for you I wouldn’t have been selected… thank you, from the bottom of my heart.’

Silence.

Trump – Probably fake news… but interesting.

Putin – I thought so too.

Trump – (thinking about it) Interesting. Don’t know the author, do you?

Putin – No. Just popped up on our screens. Haven’t been able to trace it. Anyway… I’m always here for you, like a good friend.

Trump – Thank you, Vlady, thank you.

Putin – So onwards, my friend, another 4 years in office for a brilliant tactician! There’s never been a President like you.

Trump – Thank you, and may you reign in your land for the rest of your life.

Putin – Spasibo (thank you), spasibo.

They hang up.

Trump strolls toward the window, looks out into the city beyond.

Trump – Putin is like a great friend… just keeps giving and giving. Spasibo… spasibo, indeed. One day, after my second term is over, I’ll build that Trump Tower in Moscow.

The End

Oscar Valdes is the author of Psychiatrist for A Nation and other books. Available on Amazon

Oscarvaldes.net

The Black Book. A Book of Affirmations.

Wouldn’t it be helpful if some of our African American fellow citizens, who have risen to positions of power and influence, would share with all of us some of their experiences in the struggle to become who they are?

I am sure many such individuals have already done so in one way or another, say in the writing of their biographies, but what occurred to me might be useful would be to compile parts of those experiences in a small book that could be carried in one’s side or back pocket.

Every African American citizen would be entitled to one such book, or its digital version, free of charge, courtesy of philanthropic foundations willing to shoulder the cost. The rest of us could simply buy it.

What did Oprah go through in her path to her accomplishments?

What about Obama?

What did Condoleezza Rice or Susan Rice have to battle?

When faced with difficult circumstances, what or whom did they turn to, inside or out, to find the strength to endure and overcome?

Though still underrepresented in many fields of endeavor, there are many African Americans who have managed to push through and beat the odds.

When each person had their backs against the wall, when they felt overwhelmed by circumstances, what restored their energies, what fueled their resolve?

What words did they find inspiring? What people?

What stirred their grit?

Short examples of such struggles may well keep someone who is doubting themselves and about to give up, to hang on instead and return to try again.

In my living room I keep a book of quotations from men and women who have managed to distinguish themselves. Frequently, I read or reread them. It helps.

There is so much to draw from. So much. 

There could be subsequent editions of one such book, filled with other people’s experiences. 

But wouldn’t it be useful if every African American living in our nation today, when doubting their right to be all they can be, could reach into their back or side pocket, or their phone, and find inspiration to fight on, to not lose hope, to remind themselves that they count, that they have dignity, that they have something  to contribute, that they are needed in our nation’s struggle. 

Of course, major changes are required to address existing educational, housing and health care deficits, but small steps count too.

The Black Book of Affirmations might be one such step.

Inspiration matters. 

Oscar Valdes is the author of Psychiatrist for A Nation. Available on Amazon.

Oscarvaldes.net

Oh Race, when will we cast you from our minds, when will we be free?

There are vast amounts of human energy trapped in dysfunctional relationships. Energies that can be put to good use and so ease the burden of pain we live with. Energies which can be channeled constructively to improve our lot and pave the way for those who come after us.

In the mind of the racist lives the desire to seek advantage. To get ahead. Just as it lives in the minds of those who are not racist. We need such impetus to move forward, to battle whatever our circumstances and push ahead.

It is tempting to wish to narrow the field we compete against by devaluing others.

Say that, since times past, people with the color Orange had been assigned a certain minus (-) value, for whatever reason. 

When we inherit that notion, and choose not to challenge it, then it is easy to attempt to exclude Orange people from our interactions.

This exclusion, however, carries consequences. The implicit devaluing means we will not benefit from whatever gifts nature has given them.

I use Orange to designate anyone – non white – now comprising nearly 90% of people on earth.

Our history offers some telling examples of how devaluing people suppresses energies.

At the outset of the Civil War there were clear differences in the strengths of the economies of the North and the South, the economy of the North being the stronger. Racism lived in both the North and the South but in the South it was overwhelming. African Americans escaped from the South to the North, not the other way around. In other words, the relative freedom of African Americans in the North contributed to the greater wealth of that section of the country.

In time, their power and strength would be marshaled into the Army and they would go on to play a decisive role in the victory over the South. Without them, victory would not have been possible.

Sadly, after the war, in one of the most shameful periods in our history, prejudice prevailed, and the country would go on to endure racial repression in forms overt and covert until this day.

Now think of how much farther ahead we would be today as a nation if we had confronted our prejudices?

In today’s world, it is Asian families that are the richest (2018 figures). Do we take on that challenge? Do we set out to release the energies trapped in our dysfunctional race relations?

We are proud to say that we live in a country where the rule of law and self determination prevail but, in fact, they are constantly undermined. The already advantaged continue to find ways to persuade others to give them even more advantages and so, with growing inequality of opportunity, the differences in wealth, level of education and health keep increasing.

The population of our prisons is a stark reminder of all that we have been doing wrong. Step into one and you see masses of African Americans and Latinos – whites being the minority.

What happened? Why are African Americans and Latinos so disproportionately represented in our prisons?

Why did they so disproportionately violate the law?

The answer is so clear that it is hard to accept.

Had they had the same opportunities you and I had they wouldn’t be there.

But clear as the answer is, we struggle to embrace it.

Every race has the same potential for development as any other race. That one group gained an initial advantage, was an accident of history.

When we take in that notion, then we open our minds to allowing for the development of others, even as we strive to maximize our own.

We will see the other who is troubled as someone who needs help to connect with their strengths and build on them.

Look a little closer still and we see something surprising. We see ourselves in them.

We do because they are us.

Us without the benefit of the advantage.

Us without the benefit of affordable housing.

Us but for the burden of poverty.

Us but for the drag of inferior schooling.

Us except for police brutality.

Us except for the chance to develop what abilities we have.

Yes. All of that.

Lots of work has been done to close the gap between the development of white and Black people in America, but we must speed up the pace.

To do that we have to stay open.

To stay open we have to talk.

Talk without blaming,

Talk without hating,

Seeking to understand,

And using our imagination,

To accept and forgive,

Forgive ourselves,

Perchance even to embrace the Orange people,

The Orange people that is us.

Oscar Valdes is the author of Psychiatrist for A Nation. Available on Amazon.

Oscarvaldes.net.

My Definition of Racism

Racism is a false belief, born out of a desire to prematurely close the inquiry into what makes each of us human. At the root of such desire is fear – fear of knowing the other – which when unexamined leads to their devaluing, their mistreatment, their abuse and death.

Oscar Valdes is the author of ‘Psychiatrist for A Nation’, available on Amazon.

The President Self Destroys. The Virus and George Floyd.

There had been one blunder after another during his disruptive tenure, and yet the economy had held up.

Then came the virus.

The President failed to take measures to protect us against it. Over 106,000 deaths later, the best he can do is to point the finger at China and say that it was their fault. It has to rankle him that China, with a population over 3 times larger than us, has had only a little over 4,600 deaths.

But the President is doing what he’s best at, deflecting blame.

To this day, he remains unable to admit that he was late in responding, unable to admit that he was distracted with the impeachment and that the challenge to his authority was what concerned him the most. Never mind that, with a clear majority in the Senate, there was no doubt he would be acquitted of the charges.

Then came George Floyd.

And the President lost it.

To this day, he has been unable to address the nation. A nation riven by protests and looting. A wounded nation in search of clear guidance and support. A nation bleeding from a deep wound to its soul.

And there the President stands, watching over us as we bleed.

The moment a person becomes elected to the highest office in the land, they become the person to turn to for answers to our deepest troubles. It may be too much to expect for one person to have all the answers, but we look to that person because even if they don’t have the answers, they will have access to our best and brightest, to our wisest and most serene.

But our President appears unable to take such responsibility.

And so he fails us.

It is a profound failure.

A blatant shirking of his duty.

When protesters circled the White House, he was hurried to his bunker. Please. No. Don’t you hide from your fellow Americans.

With every day that passes and you don’t address us as a nation, the greater the sense that we are truly leaderless. Someone is in the White House, sleeping and eating… we hear him rant, tweet, insult, call for the Army to take over our cities and silence the protests.

But we don’t hear a man take us into his heart and say to us, ‘I am deeply pained… that during my tenure, in this great land, a police officer had the audacity to pin down and slowly kill a man while others who were watching, begged him to stop. But it happened, happened here in this great land, on Memorial Day, in the great city of Minneapolis. To the extent that I have not endeavored to heal this nation, I, too, am guilty of what happened to George Floyd. And so I am deeply sorry that I have failed you. In this day of sorrow for our nation, I ask that we forgive each other… and forgive me… forgive so we can come together and work as the great family that we are… and join in the effort to not let this happen again.’

Our President, however, cannot say that.

To do so he would have to shed a tear for George Floyd.

And yet… still we look to the White House… only to realize that it is empty… and as we shed a tear for George Floyd… we shed a tear for ourselves.

Oscar Valdes is the author of ‘Psychiatrist for A Nation’. Available on Amazon.

Oscarvaldes.net

The Protests. The Looting. What is Justified?

The protests are. The looting is not.

African Americans are justified in their rage at how they have been treated by the police. They are justified in clamoring for fairness, for dialogue, for the end of prejudicial behaviors. They are justified in their call for prompt review of cases where improprieties or sheer cruelty have been present.

Yes, they are.

But as riots and wanton destruction spread across our land, I am disturbed by the lack of leadership to call the nation to its senses.

Why hasn’t our President been a President?
Why hasn’t he held a national broadcast calling for whatever actions are needed to stop the unfairness from continuing? Why hasn’t he called for police reform on a national level? Why hasn’t he looked us in the eye and acknowledged that something has been very wrong for George Floyd to have died as he did in Minneapolis.

And why hasn’t the African American leadership of the country stepped front and asked that the looting stop right now?

That is a responsibility that should not be shirked.

We need action now.

We need dialogue.

People have the right to protest, and loudly so, but not to loot, not to steal, not to destroy.

We do not need silence from our leaders, whatever their color. What is the point of letting a deeply flawed President continue to embarrass himself by his repeated blunders?

The nation is in flames and he has yet to step up and say, ‘Yes, protesters, there is something wrong, yes, and I too watched the video of George Floyd’s death. I, too, fellow Americans, felt the suffocating pain of his last moments as he lay pinned down by the knee of an officer with no regard for the damage his action might be inflicting. I too felt the anguish.’

But our President cannot say that because he lacks that depth of feeling. It is simply not in him.

Calls have gone out for him to address the nation, but as of this writing he has yet to do so.

There is a huge void of leadership in the country.

Someone has to step in. If we feel at a loss then let us reach back into our recent history.

And so I assure you, that Marin Luther King would have by now, stood up on a doorstep somewhere in Minneapolis and addressed the entire nation, whites, blacks, Latinos, Asian, vehemently asking, with all the power he could muster, that we show restraint, that the difficult time we are now living calls for reflection, for feeling the fullness of our hurt, asking that we reflect on how all of us have been deeply offended by the violence of some police officers and, even beyond that, that we are deeply offended by the institutionalized violence that leads to lack of opportunity in our land, uneven health care and education.

Martin Luther King would not have played it safe, holding back to see how much more our flawed President will do in his path to self destruction.

So, please, dear leaders, someone, no matter what your color, step up and call upon the spirit of the man who gave us the glorious words, ‘I have a dream, that one day in America we will be judged by the strength of our character and not the color of our skin.’

Someone, please, in this hour of need, someone with access to the media, please step up and do the right thing.

Oscar Valdes is the author of ‘Psychiatrist for A Nation’ available on Amazon.

Oscarvaldes.net

Demonize Others and you Dehumanize Yourself. The George Floyd Case.

The knee… there it was… pressed hard against George Floyd’s neck as he lay prone on the ground, his hands cuffed in back.

‘Mama… please… I can’t breathe…’ said Floyd as he lay helpless, pinned in place by the pressure of the officer’s knee.

But the officer seemed deaf. He couldn’t hear the plight of the man he had completely neutralized. He couldn’t hear the call for help of a man who, at no point, had been a threat to him.

George Floyd had been drunk and had bought cigarettes with a fake 20 dollar bill. The store clerk called the cops.

George Floyd did not put up a fight, having allowed himself to be cuffed, but then objected to going in the back of the police car. So the officers pulled him out and George fell or was thrown to the ground.

And there he lay. With the officer’s knee taking away his life. Moment by moment.

The other officers, meanwhile, swirled around, not one of them, not a single one of them, having the common sense to tell the officer pressing down on Floyd’s neck to ease up, please, you might kill the man.

Ease up, you don’t know what kind of shape that man under you is in.

Ease up, you don’t know what damage you are inflicting.

Ease up, we’re here over a fake 20 dollar bill.

Ease up, the man under you hasn’t physically hurt anyone.

Ease up, please, because you might take his life away.

No.

The other officers kept swirling about, just as onlookers videoed the scene and tried to persuade the officer pressing on Floyd’s neck to come to his senses, to please realize what he was doing.

But the officer didn’t get it.

And then George Floyd was dead.

It happened on Memorial Day in Minneapolis, a liberal American city, with excellent universities and sound institutions. A city with lots of good people.

But the accumulated wisdom of the city’s citizens had not passed through to the leadership of their police department.

For that officer’s knee to have stayed so long on George Floyd’s neck, that officer had to have demonized him. Yes, Floyd had to be a very bad man. He deserved to be punished on the spot. Never mind waiting for his day in court.

George Floyd had bought cigarettes with a 20 dollar fake bill, so that’s what you get for it in the city of Minneapolis, a knee on the back of your neck, so watch out people.

What the officer pinning George Floyd down chose to ignore, or never bothered to look into, or was never told about, or just wasn’t within his reach, was that as he demonized George Floyd he dehumanized himself.

None of the officers’ higher ups had made a point of making that clear, or maybe they thought that knees that pinned people down were good deterrents.

Maybe the Minneapolis police department had a department of psychology, maybe not. If they did, then they hadn’t been showing up. They hadn’t gone out to see the troops in action, and spot potential problems.

George Floyd was killed by an officer of the Minneapolis police department. It happened on Memorial Day, the 25th of May, 2020. Four days later, on the 29th , the officer was charged with murder and he began to be referred to as a former officer. But the whole department is responsible for George Floyd’s death.

The greatest fault ought to lie with the leadership. The ones at the very top. The ones entrusted with the task of thinking about the value of human beings, about the importance of not demonizing others.

It is very easy to single out the officer with the knee and put all the burden of wrongdoing on him.

To single him out is to divert attention from those who, having the responsibility of selecting and educating the officers, have failed to do their jobs.

It falls to the leaders of the department, to continually be reminding their troops that their task is to restrain, not punish, and that the more force at their disposal, the more careful they have to be so as not to inflict harm.

We’re all at risk for demonizing others. It’s the easier path. It does not require much thought.

The higher task, on the other hand, is to acknowledge the value of every human being, and as we do, we will likely find value in ourselves.

The officer pinning down George Floyd, had not found much to value in himself and so, he thought, there could not be much of value in George Floyd.

Oscar valdes is the author of ‘Psychiatrist for A Nation’, available on Amazon.

oscarvaldes.net