The lesson

On the night of May 6, 1937, a huge airship called the Hindenburg burst into flames as it attempted to land at Lakehurst Naval Air Base in New Jersey, killing 36 of the 97 people on board. They had traveled across the Atlantic from Frankfurt, Germany.

We who have watched newsreel footage of this tragic event won’t ever forget the anguished voice of broadcaster Herbert Morrison, who sobbed as he watched burning people fall to the ground from the flaming blimp and could do nothing to help them.

The memory of this moment came back to me as I watched television coverage of the trial of Derek Chauvin, former Minneapolis police officer who is charged in the death of George Floyd.

Witnesses for the prosecution have testified to their feelings of guilt, frustration, and sense of helplessness as they have stood and watched the life of Floyd leaving him, before their eyes, and they couldn’t prevent it.

The lives of these witnesses are changed forever. Of this we can be certain. Thanks to television coverage, we all are affected.

From the depth of my frustrated rage at the way this man died rises the comforting recognition of the good that I see in all of us. Hurrying to the aid of someone in distress is as natural to us as breathing. Irony intended. If we are unable to help, we suffer.

Love does that. Love of others, all people.

Now we are in the midst of Holy Week, a solemn period for Christians, who mourn the suffering and death of Jesus Christ. He taught us how to love. So have others of multiple faith traditions. Love one another.

If we learn anything from this trial, let it be this.

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