Moments of ugliness stain world of beauty

One of the most haunting songs I know is Lana Del Rey's Young and Beautiful. This song has made me think that, not ever having been beautiful, I at least don't have to worry that people won't love me when I am not.

I am wrong. All young people are beautiful, from the trusting toddler to the spotty, awkward teen unaware that their chrysalis is paper-thin.

People in their 20s and 30s are beautiful in the throes of their sleep-deprived parenthood and their anxiety to make and keep a home.

People in their 40s and 50s are beautiful, even in their realisation they can now never be that surfer dude in a sports car, that fresh bloom on the social set.

People in their 60s and beyond are all the more beautiful in their loss of smooth skin, their badges of the years.

But there are moments when there is no beauty. When people let their resentment and their fear of ultimately proving to be nothing overtake them. When the strata of a life of anger compress into solid black shape inside them - about the size of a man's head.

What happens when that black man's head appears before them in absolute vulnerability? Let's call that man George Floyd.

Let's call him George Floyd, by all accounts no saint, but a cheerful former football star who had served a jail sentence for home invasion and moved on to find honest work, make people laugh and become a father.

It seems George Floyd, at 46, lost his job as a restaurant bouncer during the coronavirus lockdown. He used a fake $20 bill to pay for groceries. Enter the law.

George Floyd died when, despite his calls for help, an officer's knee remained on his neck. It remained there for long enough to end his life. There is nothing beautiful in that.

We cannot use the US eye roll here. There have been more than 400 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander deaths in custody in Australia since 1991. No one is saying that is more than 400 white knees, but something is not beautiful here either.

In this day and age, can we really still be basing our personal hierarchies on the amount of melanin in the skin? Really?

The anguish of centuries has erupted in Minneapolis and beyond. Thousand of Lana Del Rey's "aching souls" have had enough.

Just a little kindness, a little more love, and those flames, those ashes, would still be just a building, just a store, just a footpath on a person's way to their job as a bouncer at a restaurant.

Marie Low is a freelance journalist based in Gunnedah, NSW.

This story Moments of ugliness stain world of beauty first appeared on The Canberra Times.