I haven’t slept well for a week and a half. Ever since Trayvon Martin’s murderer was set free, I’ve been haunted. The verdict was alarming and disheartening for me, and it makes me anxious to live in a country where this sort of crime can go unpunished.
Through some strange loophole in a faulty law, the jurors decided to set George Zimmerman free. I’ve read opinions that the jurors’ verdict was fair and just. Those opinions just do not ring true to me. I have to ask Zimmerman’s supporters: WHAT IF TRAYVON WAS YOUR CHILD? If YOUR child died, would you think it was reasonable for an armed adult man to stalk and bait your unarmed teenager walking home from a convenience store? I praise Trayvon’s parents for maintaining composure and dignity during this tragedy; I have to wonder what my reaction would be if one of my babies was so ruthlessly murdered.
George Zimmerman is a coward. The gun made him feel braver, stronger and tougher than he really is. If he hadn’t had the gun, I don’t think he ever would have pursued the teenager walking through the neighborhood. If he hadn’t had the gun, the whole situation would have been nothing more than a police drive-by after a paranoid man called 911.
The tragedy reminds me of my obligation to show my children how to treat people. There is nothing I can do to change the outcome of the case against George Zimmerman…there is no way I can bring Trayvon back to his family…I have no ability to change Florida’s law. However, I do have an opportunity to raise kids who can lead a generation born of peace and civility. Through example, I can teach them to believe that all human beings are created equal, and that we are all deserving of respect and kindness and patience. Age, race, class, looks just don’t matter when it comes to treating people nicely.
I’m sure I’ll have many more sleepless nights as I mourn the loss of Trayvon and the lack of justice in Florida’s justice system. But, during the days I will continue to greet strangers on the street and welcome new folks to our diverse neighborhood.
Teach through example.
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