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Trayvon, Zimmerman and Our Road to Healing

On Sunday and Monday my Facebook news feed blew up.

Black White HandshakeOf course, everyone had an opinion about the much publicized and politicized court case from Florida that had finally ended late Saturday night in a not guilty verdict for George Zimmerman. Few of the opinions were intelligent enough to warrant reflection on my part. Most just expressed pent up frustration and anger, pointed in blame or cried out for justice.  It would not surprise you in the least to know the opinions from my group of friends were basically split along political and racial lines.

I was not alive in 1960s America when the years of racial tension finally exploded and produced the civil rights legislation that changed the face of America and gave an entire subset of American citizens a new reason to dream. I can’t relate to the level of violence that was present in that era. I only know what I see now in 2013 and from my vantage point, it doesn’t appear as though this country is progressing in a more unifying direction. And that’s a shame after 237 years of freedom.

I live in a diverse area and teach at an equally diverse private school. I see the differences acted out in the various racial groups every day. The white culture is different from the black culture, as both are different from Hispanic, Asian and so forth. The fact these differences exist are a fact of life and not debatable. Each day, they serve as a subtle and beautiful reminder to the creativity and diversity of the God who created us all.

Our failure rests in focusing on these differences rather than our similarities, our strengths and our needs. We observe each other and silently say, “They are not like me.” Then we proceed to take a huge mental leap and project an absurd thought, “Because they are not like me, they must not like me, and must have it in for me.” So we never connect, never learn, and never truly appreciate one another.

What’s the path to healing for our country? It won’t be the courts and it won’t be found in the political arena. It won’t be from ignoring one another. And it certainly won’t happen as we selfishly pursue our own needs and agendas.

Nothing short of a spiritual revival in the hearts of people can heal the racial divide that separates us. It will require the handiwork of an almighty God who, incidentally, is not a respecter of race or color. He is a loving God who cares for all his creation equally and, in the pages of the Bible, urges us to live as peaceably as possible with all men.

Our country’s heritage rests in the premise that all individuals are created equal and have value. When will we care enough to wake up and remember that?

Image at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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Comments

  1. I have had the opportunity to live in other countries and have to say that we are a lot further along than we realize. The fact that we aren’t satisfied or are dissatisfied with where we are at is a good thing because we know that we can do better. But, with all of the fighting that we do-we still have the uncomfortable and awkward conversation on race. This is a huge thing. In a lot of other countries they sweep problems like racism under the rug and wonder why people are upset. At the end of the day the U.S. is the same country that has elected a black president (regardless of how you feel about the job that he has done)-twice. Trust me when I say that with the exception of countries on the African continent-this won’t happen anywhere else anytime soon.

    • Those are some great points Michelle and I agree with your comparison of America to other countries who ignore this issue. We are moving forward but sometimes it’s difficult to see whether incidences like this serve as a catalyst for change or function as a setback. It’s frustrating when our leaders seem to say one thing out of the left side of their mouth (like “we need to have peace and understanding”) and then say something else out of the right side of their mouth that contradicts their previous statement (like “if he was white the judgment and outcome would have been different”) The first statement seems to promote healing while the former seems to fan the flames. Thanks for your input.

      • I’m going to be honest-if he weren’t white the verdict would have been different and it’s a lie to think differently. He got out of his car, when asked not to, with his gun. And that’s where I (and a lot of people) get upset.

        As for peace and understanding people have been talking, litigating and NOT rioting. That’s a huge deal because a lot of people are very upset about the verdict. I remember other cases where there was rioting and huge amount of damage to other people’s property.

        We are moving forward and I don’t believe there is a contradiction by stating the truth (the verdict would have been different). The truth hurts and it’s not fanning the flames by being honest.

        For example: we have just engaged in civil discourse and a conversation where I heard what you said and appreciated and valued your point of view. I may not agree with everything…but, I value you and what you said. I have observed that in a lot of aspects surrounding the conversation on this case. It’s obvious that people don’t agree. But, we’ve agreed to disagree and I’ve had the opportunity to air out my grievance. That’s a big deal. And we didn’t fight each other. We talked 🙂

        I appreciate this post!

  2. Joe Robinson says:

    Excellent, maybe the racial divide will come down in America like the Berlin Wall that kept the German Citizens from escaping there home country. The racial divide like the Berlin wall keeps people captive in their own culture because they are afraid of what they will lose if they connect with the outside world. If the Church (like you said) would break down their walls then maybe society will follow and break down their walls as well. We are the example.

  3. Beautifully written! Although I’m not a religious person, I do think we’ve come a long way, but have a long way to go as well. I think everything starts with compassion.

    • MoneySmartGuides says:

      I agree completely. I think we’ve come a long way, but we still have a long way to go.

    • We can all do our part, whether or not we hold to a religious position or not. I think you are right in your assessment that healing starts with compassion and love for others. We have to think outside of ourselves first.

  4. Amen. Our God is greater than all of this!

  5. Tanya @ The Heavy Purse says:

    Hear, hear! At the end of the day, we are all the same and we need to put aside our differences. What happened that night is a tragedy but if we truly want some good or justice to come from it – then we need to work together and stop leading with hate, which seems to be happening more and more. It makes me sad.

  6. This case really struck a chord with my wife, because as a woman she’s felt the same kind of vulnerability that it seems like the black community is feeling here. Her reaction is basically that you’re only really safe walking down the street if you’re a white male. Otherwise you’re a potential target, and that targeting seems be be okay. I’m honestly not in tune with all of this enough to really have an informed opinion, but as a white male who’s never really had to feel that vulnerability, it’s pretty eye-opening to know that people really feel that way. I certainly hope we can find a way to make that better.

  7. Excellent piece. I was an “urban neighbor” for a year in college and lived in a neighborhood that had seen poverty and hard times for decades. The need for reconciliation is huge, and it has to come from ALL sides. Deep down I think there really is a desire for reconciliation, understanding, and ultimately love, but it seems to come slowly and only through hard work. Honestly I think you are right that without spiritual renewal it’s basically impossible to overcome challenges.

    • Well, people’s hearts have to change and it does have to come from both sides. I don’t think that happens through the words of a politician or an opinion passed down through a court. It’s going to take a deeper movement of spirit.

  8. Holly Johnson says:

    I honestly don’t know much about the case. I don’t have cable television so I have been exposed to very little of it. However, the things people were saying on Facebook were absurd!

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