Yes, I’m a Dreamer

I felt like posting something about the verdict in the George Zimmerman trial yesterday, but I decided to take some time and think about it, read about it, and not let my post be simply fueled by emotion. But now that I’ve done that, my thinking, reading, and waiting has all come back to one thing–emotion.

I’m not concerned about the emotions of shock or rage. I don’t much care about the emotions of disappointment, sadness, or confusion–all feelings Treyvon’s family must have felt yesterday. I’m also not too concerned with the feelings of jubilation, vindication, and celebration George and his family must have felt yesterday when the verdict was read. I don’t care about the relief, release, and righteousness some jurors felt. And I don’t care about the frustration and guilt others might have felt.

The media, politicians, special interest groups on both sides–see, all of them play on emotion. Emotions like the ones I’ve listed above. They use these emotions to get action, to win over public opinion, and to get you–yes you–posting on your Facebooks, tweeting, commenting on news articles, voting, writing letters, and even–if you live in Oakland, California–to break shit. But there is an emotion the media, your elected representatives, and lawyers hide from, one they sweep under the rug except maybe twice a year when it’s possible to use this emotion to sell you something under the pretense of caring about you and your relationships.

Love.

Was the shooting racist? Was the verdict? We all know racism exists. We’ve all heard racist comments, probably from some of our friends and family. Knowing there’s racism is not a news story. This is not an incident to look at and say, “We all thought electing President Obama meant we lived in a post-racial society, but this case is a historical marker showing it is not yet gone.” Really? Do you actually believe this? Let’s stop talking about whether or not racism exists and talk about what causes a racist. How do you combat racism? Not through laws and government requirements and education.

Those are treatments, not preventative care. They don’t stop Treyvon Martin from being shot. They don’t bring him back.

Was the shooting something else–something about fear in our society? Are we so afraid that we’re ready to shoot anything that comes near us that might be dangerous. One could argue a white Treyvon Martin gets shot just the same in that situation. Zimmerman was sick of the violence in his neighborhood, felt threatened because of the history of violence in his neighborhood, and pulled the trigger. The media bombards us with fear. Lock your doors, buy a gun, wear name badges at work, see-something-say-something, lock down drills for third-graders, duck and cover videos, duck-tape on the doors, shoe searches, and the list could go on for days. Be afraid. Be very afraid.

Those are treatments, not preventative care. They don’t stop Treyvon Martin from being shot. They don’t bring him back.

The scary thing about this is that a jury of his peers said that what George Zimmerman did was justified. If they were facing this young, unarmed boy in a hoodie and they had a gun, they’d pull the trigger too. This wasn’t murder. This was collateral damage in the war against violence on our streets. We shall stomp out violence, end it all together, by shooting those who may be violent, and then we will protest that violence by looting and rioting in Oakland, breaking store windows and vandalizing, destroying the property of those who we have no grievance with to make a point against…what…violence?

Those aren’t even treatments, they’re side effects of bad medicine, and are certainly not preventative care. They don’t stop Treyvon Martin from being shot. They don’t bring him back.

We need more emotion in the world, yes, but not these emotions. We need more love. Perhaps if we lived in a world where we instinctively, regularly, and freely showed love for each other, no matter how different we may seem, these things would stop happening. What if George Zimmerman saw a boy on the street he thought was a drug dealer or gang banger or just a plain old crook, someone dangerous, and he took the chance to do what seems to be the really dangerous thing, to love. What if he said, “Young man, I love you. I don’t know why you’re in this situation, but I can get you help. You’re not alone. We all have problems. We all need help. What do you need from me. Let me help you”?

If–and we know he wasn’t–Treyvon did have a gun, what would have happened? Would he have shot Zimmerman dead right there? How would things be different? Would Martin have fallen to his knees and cried, seeing true love for what it was, a helping hand? Would he have pulled a trigger? Maybe Zimmerman dies in this imaginary scenario. Maybe he gets shot. But someone died that day anyway, and the world might be better off with a martyr for the cause of universal love instead of a martyr for the cause of “safer neighborhoods” or a vindictive “taking back of our streets.”

And since Treyvon wasn’t armed, wasn’t dangerous, we would be left with an untold story of a peaceful and heart-warming meeting between two men from different circumstances. A bond formed between two men who have nothing in common other than their ability to love. Sound naive? Sound stupid? Sound cheesy? Well, until these things don’t sound that way, we’ve got work to do.

And the work starts with you.

I once tweeted a phrase that just kind of came to my mind. “Find a way to make someone’s day; love like there’s no tomorrow.” For Treyvon Martin, there is no tomorrow. No, all of us loving each other unconditionally won’t bring Treyvon back. But it might make his death mean something more than a trial, political infighting, angry Facebook posts, and violent Oakland protests.

You may say I’m a dreamer. But I hope to God I’m not the only one.

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