“I can’t breathe”: a litany for justice


The murder of George Floyd, an unarmed black man, lying on the sidewalk with the white cop’s knee planted on his neck for about 8 minutes, resulting in death from suffocation, as fellow police officers watched, touched a deep fiber by millions. in our nation. It also made me angry. It still happens in the United States The injustice and violence were evident and recorded for all to see.

The response has been multiracial and international. The horrific scene of this officer’s impassive gaze at the camera, as he rested his knee on this man who cried for his life, resonates with so many episodes of injustice and violence in our country and in the world.

“I cannot breathe” and “they will kill me” are terrifying words that, whether spoken out loud, written or held in the heart, degrade and denigrate individuals, communities and our planet. Many have reacted because they also experience some type of choking. Alarmingly, as with George Floyd’s breathless appeal, it goes unnoticed day in and day out:

Millions of developing countries contracting COVID-19, with little or no healthcare or access to ventilators are screaming “I can’t breathe!”

Hundreds of millions of poor people in Africa, Asia, the Americas and in governments, who are suffocated by non-repayable loans from the World Bank and the IMF, are screaming, “We can’t breathe!… They are going to kill us. ! “

The indigenous communities and the inhabitants of the villages of Honduras in the Congo who are suffering the destruction of their lands, their houses and their heritage, driven by the extraction of minerals and wealth from their lands, cry: “They are killing us;” “They are destroying our land!”

The unborn child at different stages of gestation, threatened by instruments and vacuum cleaners, would cry out if he could: “They are going to kill me!”


The continued destruction of the forests, the lungs of the Earth, and the contamination of the atmosphere in major cities are causing many to now cry, “We can’t breathe!”

The successful young members of our society, who know much of their lives, cling to the fragile DACA protection thread, shout, in the face of threats from the Trump administration: “I can’t breathe because of the anxiety.”

LGBTQ people, trying to go about their business, are targeted and ridiculed, and in some places, persecuted, even to death, shout, “They are going to kill me!”

The migrant and asylum seeker fleeing violence, persecution, corruption and extreme poverty, cries out as they are crammed with many others into the sealed storage area of ​​the truck: “We cannot breathe ! “


Other migrants and asylum seekers who have fled death threats in their country of origin are rejected by our nation, put back on planes to return to the same situation, must also think with anguish when they land: ” They will kill me! ”

The battered woman, victim of domestic violence and domestic violence continues, screams or swallows her words as she endures more beatings, broken bones and humiliation: “He’s going to kill me!”

Black and brown people living with fear and threats from racist and white supremacist neighbors and colleagues, vigilante groups and many others who feel emboldened by President Trump’s racist attitudes and actions, think or cry, for themselves and their families: they are killing us? Will we be able to breathe? “

The millions of marginalized and undocumented people in our society, who have to live in unsanitary, unsanitary and rodent-infested apartments rented by their unscrupulous owners, or slums, cry out or not, for fear of being evicted and discovered: “I can’t breathe in this space!

The man or woman who is severely suffering from the disease of addiction to alcohol, drugs, pornography, screams while waiting for the next solution that they cannot get: “I cannot breathe while I am.” did not understand it! ”

The minor – perhaps now an adult – sexually abused by the clergy, a family member or someone else he trusts, cries out, often for years: ” I can’t breathe with such pain! ”

The migrant farm worker, the day laborers who are denied a fair wage or payment at the end of the working day or week for lack of papers, with a dependent family, will rightly cry out from the bottom of their hearts: ” Will my family and I survive and breathe? ”

The everyday woman and man, confronted with unjust structures of society, laws, discrimination, abuse in the workplace, continuous unemployment, lack of access to health care adequate, could no doubt shout: “This will kill me!” I can not breathe.

And silently, but above all, as our planet Earth continues to be plundered by unscrupulous mining and extraction companies and polluted by fossil fuels, corporate greed and materialistic lifestyles, “They will kill me! And it will kill you!

Are we surprised that so many people identified with George Floyd’s call to life and took to the streets?

When Saul was taking the religiously motivated action of persecuting the “followers of the Way,” the risen Christ appeared to him on the road in a surprising and shocking way, and said, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? ? ” Christ revealed that by persecuting and killing his disciples, Saul was persecuting him.

The risen Christ, at the time of death, breathed his Spirit of life into the world. Yet greed, racism, injustice, materialism, violence, a thoughtless lifestyle – sin – suffocates humanity, many to die for.

Jesus also taught that whatever we do, good or bad, to the lesser of His brothers or sisters, we do to Him. Using his imagination, one could rightly see Jesus today, lying on the floor, handcuffed, one knee on his neck, crying, “I can’t breathe! They will kill me!

Again and again!

About Warren Dockery

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