Posted by: Terri Johnston Fraracci | July 14, 2013

On the Zimmerman case: Some thoughts on love, assumption, retaliation, and America

Like many Americans, I am disappointed by the not guilty announcement. But I think I see this from a bit of a different perspective. It is that perspective that I wish to share with you.

The racism cry is loud and insistent in the aftermath of this event. It is also aimed at the court system, America, and Florida, in particular. I would assert that using this outcome to assume and promote anger and angst and argument over the assumption that this is clear evidence of racism on the part of so many people is foolish, short-sighted, and does not serve the purpose that those screaming the loudest say it will. Hear me out.

Is racism still a big issue in America? Yes it is. Does it still need to be resolved? Yes it does. But is using one case with so many elements at play a wise choice for highlighting the fact that people are still being hurt by racism and encouraging a change? No.

Here’s why: Because any time you use a cause to incite, you have lost the reason for the cause, which is to promote love. Because any time you assume that an outcome you don’t like is based on one thing, like racism, you dismiss all that you don’t know and all that you have not taken the time to think about because you have let your anger and disappointment run over the top of critical thinking.

However the night wound up, it began with a neighborhood watch member, George Zimmerman, walking around carrying a gun, following someone he deemed suspicious, calling 911, and then ignoring the direction of the 911 operator, who told him that he did not need to follow Trayvon Martin. George Zimmerman had no business approaching Trayvon. That’s clear.

What is not clear is whether George is a racist or not. What is not clear is who he is? As is the way of the media today, copious speculations on the character of Zimmerman were shared, mulled over, and used as fuel for the fire. But even if George, one man, is racist, that does not mean that the court, all of the state of Florida, or all of America is racist. The trial was about one man who killed one young man, and what was to be determined was whether is was self-defense, or not. The court, Florida, and America were not on trial. But as is the current trend, now all three are on trial by the public, based on much assumption.

I, personally, do not think that the prosecution did a good job of proving, through evidence, beyond doubt, that Zimmerman murdered Trayvon. There just wasn’t enough. That has nothing to do with racism. The jury’s job is to assess the burden of proof, and make the best call they can. That has nothing to do with racism. It has to do with the structure of the court system, the particulars of this case, and human imperfection, not racism.

The point is this: This case did not turn out well, in the eyes of many of the general public. To assume that it went the way it did, due to racism, in general, use that premise for a platform to create more division and spread the toxic poisons of anger, bashing all kinds of people, and each other, is not the way to end racism.

“If you have weapons, take them home; if you do not have them, please do not seek to get them. We cannot solve this problem through retaliatory violence. We must meet violence with nonviolence. Remember the words of Jesus: “He who lives by the sword will perish by the sword.” We must love our white brothers, no matter what they do to us. We must make them know that we love them. Jesus still cries out in words that echo across the centuries: “Love your enemies; bless them that curse you; pray for them that despitefully use you.” This is what we must live by. We must meet hate with love. Remember, if I am stopped, this movement will not stop, because God is with the movement. Go home with this glowing faith and this radiant assurance.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

Anger, shouting, arguing, bashing the system, state, country, and each other, and using this case to push a cause are all violent, retaliatory weapons too. I encourage you to put them down, calm down, take a look at the factual dimensions of the case, pick up the instruments of love – “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. – 1Corinthians 13:4-7  NIV, and go to battle for right treatment of all of God’s children with His chosen way of promoting love.

Put your weapons down.

May God bless and hold in His loving arms the Martin family and all those who have been hurt by this tragic event and its fall out. May He also open our eyes to His way of loving our neighbors, loving our “enemies”, and loving each other so that we may move out of the problem, and into the solution in a way that honors Him, inspiring the kind of change that we wish to see happen.

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