This is a vital question right now. I will not try to analyze the verdict that came down today. It is too complex for me to even try. I sat here thinking and reading comments and my mind was rather stalemated. It has happened again. That is all I can say. People are assigning blame to so many things. A jury came to a decision. They thereby did not condemn the shooter but found him innocent of the charges.
Is there guilt in the death of the young man? Indeed. Lots more guilt than finding Zimmerman guilty would have taken care of. That's the point I see being missed so far. maybe when folks settle down they will take this from here and go forward. Is there another choice?
We should not be having to suffer this today. But we are. The blame for what has happened goes far beyond the trial today. Read on below. We have so much we must fix.
When Martin Luther King was assassinated I had similar thoughts. It was not just another killing. It happened in a context. I was playing choose up sides basketball at the YMCA in Town of Tonawanda outside of Buffalo New York. At that time I was teaching at SUNY Buffalo. When the announcement of King's death came over the loudspeaker there was a loud cheer! I left the court, got dressed, went home and drank too much. I never went back.
Since then there have been so very many things like this that I have become numb. I guess I write through that numbness tonight.
After King's death there were riots. There was also was a will to fight on and to make his life a monument to non violent struggle for freedom. The latter is what we need to focus on now. Our country was born out of violence and has been a haven for violence ever since its birth. There is a strange myth under all we do that says we must be strong (in the sense that we can be more violent than anyone who would try to harm us) and can never stop being strong. I served as an Officer in the USMC. I was taught to kill. I have never recovered from that. I think the ability to kill others is a very self destructive ability. The many justifications that support it do not erase the damage it does to one's soul.
I have had this discussion here many times and have only come out of each episode more dedicated to the idea that violence is a very central feature in all that is wrong with the world today. It is not possible to solve problems with violence. One may choose to use it under some claim of being "forced" to, but there is no escape from the consequences and the damage to one's being for having done it.
Clearly what I have asserted is not popular. If it were the problem would be self correcting in that people would opt against violence in order to escape the consequences of using it. But there is the rub. Most people reading my words here have already thought the thoughts one must think about this issue. They have imagined some point where using violence is a lesser evil. Once you say that the situation the Jurors were forced to cope with today is beyond having a clear resolution. Each person who opts for the idea that using violence is a lesser evil has opened the can of worms. If you have followed this line of thought you realize why we need to go forward.
You can not arm people and teach them that there are times when it is good to kill without the situation degenerating to the conditions leading to the death of this beautiful young man.
We will never know what went through their minds that night. All we know is that they both lived in a society that is not healthy and that generates fear as a means of controlling people. Now only one of them lives in that society and he will live the rest of his life with a killing of another human being in his memory. The trial and the need to to escape punishment has already rearranged the memories to lessen some of whatever guilt he might be feeling.
Meanwhile the reactions to this are myriad. The idea that violence has had a boost today is almost universal. There are some pleas for non violent reactions to this in all sectors of the society but far more projections of all kinds of violence to follow.
Can we have a victory in all this? I think we can. It will be hard, but all progress is hard and freedom never is won without struggle, pain and suffering. I ask you to join me now in that struggle. Can we dedicate ourselves to the uplifting of human values to a state where violence is never an answer? Can we struggle for a society that does not take human life for any reason? That would be some victory. I can only hope.