Thomas Paine wrote in 1776, "These are the times that try men's souls." Well, so are these!

The COVID-19 pandemic is a challenge that rose up before our country and the world with little warning. That it could have been handled better with earlier intervention and more enlightened leadership is the opinion of many. Nevertheless, it is of the variety of rare and unprecedented events, like the Spanish flu of 100 or so years ago. It will pass, and despite the tragic losses, COVID-19 will become a memory more than a pattern. 

What is really trying for the soul is the trivialization by so much of America's highest leadership of the Black Lives Matter movement in America. It is a credit to a large swath of the American public that so many peaceful protests are being conducted across the country in the wake of George Floyd's suffocation at the hands of the Minneapolis police. Despite the president's threats to invoke military force to "dominate the battle space," the thousands of marchers on our streets in recent days have done themselves proud, giving us hope.

Nevertheless, the president and his minions "refuse" to accept the plain fact that generally black Americans do not, and have not enjoyed the same level of opportunity that whites have had for over 400 years. But when whites and blacks and others take to the streets to peacefully demonstrate, the official response is authoritarian in character No understanding of the underlying causes are evident. Sort of a "what's your problem" mentality.

The core problem is that white people do not face the daily threat of being randomly murdered by the police for the simple "crime" of being black. White people do not understand that being black presents real risks every time they leave their homes. (Or in the cases of Breanna Taylor and Botham Jean, even when they haven't left their homes.)

White folks do not understand or comprehend the fear of a black mother every time her son is "out of the house." It is an uneasiness based upon grisly accumulation of black male deaths at the hands of those who are supposedly there for community protection. Experience-based fear is powerful and does not go away just because some politician gives an encouraging speech. Even less when politicians give lip service without any intention of action. And another life is surrendered, just like Mr. Floyd's.

Wake up, America! We can do better! Holding a Bible in front of a church just won't cut it! Those of us white Americans have an obligation to the nation to recognize the reality for what it is and correct it. We may not know the black mother's fear because we haven't felt it, but we can be wise enough to know it is real and something about it. 

If we deliver, future times will not be so trying to our souls.

Jackson Milhollan