We put an individual on trial because it is easier than taking responsibility as a society for the forces that shaped the actions of both George Floyd and Derek Chauvin. It’s cleaner. After the verdict, there is a shared sense of closure. We know who to blame, and we will make him pay — then act surprised when it happens again.

Both men were shaped by the culture that surrounded them. As a nurse I have a lot of questions. What were the influences that desensitized Chauvin to hearing the pleas of a fellow human being? How did we fail along the way to recognize and support the emotional and mental-health needs of George Floyd?

Incessant media coverage of the trial provided a smokescreen so that we could once again ignore or deny the actual issue: the absence of a health-care infrastructure that meets the mental, social, emotional, and physical needs of our citizens.

We have an opportunity to uplift humanity and create a moral and just society. But we will miss this opportunity if we continue our persistent, myopic focus on individual blame and ignore our collective responsibility.

Kathleen Bartholomew, Ellensburg, RN, MN