The International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) wishes to lend our voice to the outcry of millions of people across the United States and around the world, who are calling for justice for abused minorities and protection for all people.
The recent murder of George Floyd was a terrible crime. We pray to God, known in our tradition as Sri Krishna, for the soul of Mr. Floyd and for the well-being of his family, friends and community. Sadly, we know his death is but one crime among a long list of heinous violence committed against our black brothers and sisters.
America is a great nation, founded on meaningful principles. The Declaration of Independence states “We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness…”
Despite these lofty words, throughout America’s history the vision of equal opportunity, equal rights before the law, and equal protection by and from the government has not been the reality for many.
Over the last few days these underlying injustices and tensions again reached a boiling point. Thousands have taken to the streets in anger and frustration with a cry for reform—this too being a God-given and constitutional right. In some cities, governments and police agencies have acted respectfully, protecting and even supporting the protesters. In some places—most notably our nation’s capital—police and other agents sworn to protect citizens have instead fired tear gas and rubber bullets into crowds of peaceful protestors. Conversely, in some places protests have been infiltrated by criminals who commit theft, arson, and other wanton acts of violence.
Why such violence? The Vedic scriptures describe this time as the age of quarrel and hypocrisy. It is a time dominated by conceptions of us vs. them, white vs. black, abused and abuser, and of increasing hatred and divisiveness.
What can be done in the face of such divisiveness and suffering? Our Vaishnava philosophy invites us to recognize that we are not black, white, or brown. We are spiritual beings, sons and daughters of the Divine. Our exploitation of each other arises from forgetfulness of this deeper connection—incensed by a blind and unfounded fear of the other.
Second, it is incumbent upon us to root out the culture of violence that ails our society. The statistics are clear—killing, violence and abuse are an increasingly dominant aspect of American culture. Speaking out against this, we decry all those who cause violence against the black community. We decry those who cause violence against other minorities, including Jews, Muslims, and Hindus, and against people both brown and white. We call for the protection of all human beings, and Mother Earth herself, and all her children.
Last, we must recognize that we are not proprietors of this Earth. Our planet is not here for us to claim, or to make war over. The entire world is a gift of God. Our bodies—whatever their color—are gifts of God. We should use the short time we have in this life to seek spiritual solutions to the myriad crises we face, and not blindly seek material objects for selfish gain.
Thus, we pray for George Floyd. We pray for all oppressed minorities across America and the world, and beseech the Lord for their protection. We also pray for those that promote hatred, those who have allowed their hearts to become callous to the suffering of others, that they might someday realize the terrible pain they cause and to learn to amend their oppressive ways.
And, while we seek profound change, we also value practical steps. Within our own communities, racism also sometimes raises its ugly head. Therefore, we are promoting expanded public dialogue and understanding. We also call upon governments, led by conscientious men and women to undo systemic racism wherever it festers, undo the culture of wanton violence, and undo the excessive exploitation of the Earth and her creatures, so that the ideals of America’s Founding Fathers may again give light to hope and not cynicism, to inspiration and not despair.
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