Tuesday, July 16, 2013
Trayvon Martin and Metanoia
I am beyond words right now thinking about the verdict in the Trayvon Martin case. I am disgusted, enraged, heartbroken and afraid. I've always wanted children, but as a black man things like this make me pause and think. Do I want to bring children into a world like this? A world where I cannot keep them safe? A world that will look at their black skin and automatically brand them as menaces? A world where a 17-year-old honor roll, college bound student walking down the street with a bag of skittles and some ice tea is gunned down and the shooter goes free?
Justice in this life is imperfect, but it's where we start. Convicting George Zimmerman would have done nothing to bring Trayvon back, but it would have sent out a message to any armed-wanna be-cop out there. And it could have in some small way started the process of "metanoia" or a conversion of the heart for George Zimmerman and our society. This is what George Zimmerman needs and this is what our racist, patriarchal, capitalist society needs, a change of heart. Yet as of today George Zimmerman has never apologized for killing Trayvon Martin. Why should he? The courts agree with him in his assertion that he has done nothing wrong. And this is the most tragic part of the verdict: it gives the George Zimmermans of the world no reason to change and it gives those who agree with him no reason to change either.
The soul of our nation is sick with racism, selfishness, greed, apathy and so many other things. Without metanoia, without a change of heart, tragedies like this will just keep happening. And our justice system is not removed from that process of metanoia. The Civil Rights Acts did not change the hearts and minds of Americans over night, but it did change many hearts and many minds over time. It began the process of metanoia for people all across the country regarding racism. George Zimmerman's conviction could have in some small way begun a similar process for a nation still struggling to recognize people of color as full human beings.
We are not to wait for God's justice when we get to heaven, we won't need it then. God's justice starts right here and right now with our frail, limited justice. This is where we start. It starts with you and me holding people accountable for the evil they do so that metanoia can become a possibility for the individual and the larger society.
Following the Way,