While being a husband, father, and reverend I have been asked by many my reaction to the recent verdict in the Zimmerman trail. My intent is not to inflame, hurt, or debate but only to open up my own perspective to enlightenment and change. My only initiative is that we can move forward in a different course of action and dialogue that truly listens to each other and not only a diatribe of our own views.
The verdict: Four African American and two Caucasian competent women listened to the evidence presented by both parties and applied all evidence to the law as instructed by the judge. When they received the evidence presented to them, after they evaluated it and applied to the law as it was written. They acquitted a Hispanic male. While the verdict is not one many people had wanted I can’t not seem to find injustice in the legal process itself. While the “stand your ground law” is flawed, the jury did not allow their own emotions, race or gender to sway their decision. While many people may be upset with the outcome, those six women had a very difficult task and should be commended, not condemned, for their civil service. It is not a flawed justice system or an illegal injustice just because the outcome did not justify our own needs or agenda.
While there will be ongoing debate about the actual facts of what happened that night, the truth remains no one except Martin, Zimmerman and God know exactly what happened. We cannot begin to project what was the intent of the heart of Zimmerman or Martin. Martin could have been running for his life as a scared child or he could have been disrespectful thug out to beat up a “white ass cracker”. Zimmerman could have been out to hunt down and kill someone he perceived as a thug criminal or he could have truly feared for his life. People can speculate all they want but no one can possibly know the intent of either parties actions. All we know is the results of the actions. The result was a young precious life was cut short because of fear.
I see the problem is bigger than one verdict and one trail. For me I see the problem is fear. Our society has produced an environment where fear has created one armed person to volunteer to patrol the streets out of fear someone might take something or harm someone else. One young man is fighting for his life out of fear of the first man. We live in a society where hundreds of young people have died on the streets of Chicago, Detroit, Miami, and Memphis and many other cities since this one death occurred. I am not at all trying not to say the Martin family is not hurting or his death was not a tragedy. Just that it is repeated daily, with other families hurting that don’t have media or political attention. No parent should have to bury their child. When it because the norm, we have failed miserably as a society. Sadly enough in many places in our nation it has already become the norm.
So how do we combat this fear? I'm not sure but I don’t pretend it will be easy or comfortable. I do believe Jesus had the right answer that is by love. Love is easy to say but hard to do. We must be open and willing to love everyone. Those like us and those we deem strangers. We must begin to view everyone as a child of God. Every life lost is not a loss of one specific race, religion, political view but a lost to us as a society. We need to understand that when we begin to love like Jesus teaches us to love, then we automatically becomes less fearful of one another. Laws can be fixed that is the easiest part, laws we already have in place can be enforced, but if we look at the reason why a teenage boy would rather risk jail and carry a gun just so he can feel safe. We must begin to address the fear that is ruining us and dividing us as a society that proclaims freedom, opportunity, and unity.
We need to begin to realize each of us place a self-imposed value system of who we feel God should punish and that God should give a second chance too and we call it justice. The simple fact is we only use the injustice card when we don’t get the outcome we wanted. The trail may or may not have had the outcome you think was justice, however if we don’t attempt to love and address this fear we all know deep down is there, we have failed all generations to come. Will it be uncomfortable? Yes. Will it take great effort? you bet. Will we hear things we might not want to hear? Of course. But we only react because we don’t approve of the verdict then we have failed all children. If we can do that, look beyond a verdict and into the future of all children then maybe we all can find some redemption in this tragedy. I think we all can agree that we would all like less fear in our life for our children to feel safe and secure. My prayer is that each of us can view the stranger in the dark not as a treat, not as something to be feared, but as a precious child of God.