Is there another way of looking at the
Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman tragedy?
No one does anything inappropriate, given their model of the world.
Conversations with God brought us this startling message now nearly 20 years ago. In the aftermath of the trial of George Zimmerman and the Not Guilty verdict that was brought back by the jury — and in the whirlwind of feelings that many people are experiencing in response to that verdict — we might do well to examine that message from CWG.
The point that it made: everyone ultimately does what he or she thinks is “right,” based on their beliefs about Life and how it is and what that means to them; their understandings regarding their relationship to other people; and their truth about God — assuming they believe in God at all (which, of course, is also a “truth” about God).
In this tragic case both George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin, the teenager he stood accused of killing needlessly until the jury found him innocent of that charge, had a less than favorable “model of the world” that may have led them to regard each other with suspicion — and that seems to have been at least part of what led to this tragic situation.
Mr. Martin apparently labeled Mr. Zimmerman a “creepy-ass cracker” when describing, in a cell phone conversation with his girlfriend, the man who was following him. For his part, Mr. Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer, was recorded on his phone report to the police dispatcher as apparently lumping Mr. Martin in with “punks” who previously have robbed the neighborhood, adding that “these **** always get away.”
The spiritual opportunity here is for all of us to change a model of the world that declares some people “guilty” and others “innocent” for doing exactly the same thing: what their understanding of circumstances and their experience of life led them to do, feeling strongly that, from their point of view, they were “right” in the doing of it.
In a highly advanced civilization, there would never be a “trial” (an interesting word in this context) to determine a person’s guilt or innocence. Rather, a public hearing would be held before the entire community (in this case, the whole country) in which a person would be invited to plead regretful or not regretful (and the reasons for it) regarding an action that was taken that hurt or damaged another — and to demonstrate and prove their regret, if that was their plea, by offering service and recompense to the injured party and/or the family of that party, if a death was involved. If they pleaded “not regretful,” the community would respond in a non-violent way that it felt appropriate in the circumstance.
If a person pleaded “regretful,” a lifetime of service to the deceased’s family, or to the person injured if a death was not involved, together with honest reparations to the degree appropriate and possible, would do more for everyone involved — and more for society as a whole — than placing someone behind bars (much less killing them) for an action that came from their deepest inner sense of what was needed, given their model of the world.
If that model of the world is so twisted and distorted that its assessments as to what is appropriate make no sense to anyone else at all, even our legal system allows a jury to find a person innocent by reason of diminished capacity.
If that model is not so twisted or distorted, how can we rationalize placing someone in a cage for the rest of his or her life for doing what they, in a non-distorted way, thought was right? Shouldn’t our argument be with their model of the world — and the model of the world of our entire community as well?
I realize that this is a very radical way of thinking, and so I just propose it as one new way of exploring and examining the emotions that tragedies such as the Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman incident bring up for all of us.
Trayvon Martin might have simply continued walking — perhaps even running — to his father’s house, just a few hundred yards away, rather than turning back, heading for the person following him, and allegedly confronting that person. If I’m afraid, and not looking for a confrontation, I move away from, not toward, the other person in a situation like that. George Zimmerman might have simply stopping following, or never gotten out of his truck to follow to begin with. If I’m not wanting to potentially confront another (much less possibly hurt another), I move away from, not toward, another person is that kind of situation.
Bad judgment — by my personal measurement — may have been used by both persons in this situation. Yet, using the model of the world of each of them, as best we can guess it judging from the words they spoke just prior to their confrontation, we might be able to see that both did what they thought was right and necessary for them to do.
“No one does anything inappropriate, given their model of the world,” CWG says, and that is what I hold in my heart in the aftermath of the verdict in this trial. And, certainly, deep compassion for the family of Trayvon Martin, whose loss is incalculable, and whose pain can never truly end. I will work until my final day to assist our planet’s people in changing their model of the world, one by one, so that hatred and non-forgiveness does not emerge from tragedies such as this…and so that such tragedies themselves might one day never again occur.
We can start changing our world model by releasing at last our notion that we are somehow separate from each other, and embracing the cosmic truth that We Are All One. That in itself would halt more violent confrontations that any other single shift in thinking within our society.
I send you love on this day.