Jul 152013 278 Responses

What if Trayvon Martin was My Son?

What if Trayvon Martin was my son? What would I think of the trial? What would be my response to the verdict? How would I see things different if he wasn’t an unknown kid in Florida, but was the little boy who I rocked to sleep and the young man who I let go to the store for a snack only to never have him return?

What if George Zimmerman was my son? What would I think of the trial? The verdict? The media frenzy? How would my view be changed if it was my family rather than someone I didn’t know?

If Trayvon was my son:

  • I would be mad.
  • I would be inconsolable.
  • I would think my son was murdered.
  • Even if I thought he got in a fight, he didn’t deserve having a gun pulled on him.
  • Even if he reacted the wrong way, he was a kid getting candy, but he was treated like a criminal in his own neighborhood.

If Trayvon was my son, I would be convinced he was dead because he was black. How many white kids with hoodies get shot in their own neighborhood.

If Trayvon was my son, I would assume the criminal justice system was set against him.

If Trayvon was my son, this would be another example of what is wrong with America.

If George Zimmerman was my son:

  • I would be relieved, but angry.
  • I would be heartbroken.
  • I would say he was run over by a mob.
  • I would blame the media.
  • I would assume he was attacked and defended himself.

If George Zimmerman was my son, I would be convinced he was tried because he is Hispanic.

If George Zimmerman was my son, I would assume politicians trying to win a future election used him for their own good.

If George Zimmerman was my son, this would be another example of what is wrong with America.

But neither are my sons.

I’m half a country away, watching via television and reading a few news reports. I know a lot of the facts, but not all of them.

I have opinions, but I’m not sure they are right.

Literally one fact which I do not know could completely change my thoughts.

Yet I know what I would think if either person was my son. And neither father is completely wrong.

It’s a funny thing about truth: we are so biased by our experiences it is nearly impossible for us to know the whole truth.

Yet we are unaware of these biases so we are deceived into thinking we know it all.

So when someone disagrees with us we claim they are either ignorant or evil.

But often they are neither. Often when people disagree with us, they simply see a different part of the story which we don’t fully see.

It is our ignorance and our arrogance which labels those who disagree with us as ignorant or evil.

If we consider both sides might be partly right and partly wrong, what are the ramifications for this case:

  • If you think this has nothing to do with race and anyone who brings up race is “race-baiting,” you probably have forgotten the experiences of racism which others have faced and you can’t relate to.
  • If you think this is only about race and anyone who denies that is racist, you probably have forgotten the experiences of others and how many things have changed.

Our inability to see the other side, to understand their position, to see how others can disagree with us in a logical way, is one of the great problems in America today.

I have an opinion, but I can understand how someone can have the exact opposite opinion of me and can come to that conclusion in a very logical, reasoned, and sensible way. This is true in a variety of issues of life.

When I understand this, I can not only disagree with others but I can actually learn from those with whom I disagree. I can even, on occasion, change my mind because they are right.

Yet for as long as I think those who disagree with me are ignorant or evil, everything they say and do will confirm my opinion. I will demonize them and become more sure of my own version of truth. This is dangerous.

I don’t fully know what it is like for either Trayvon Martin’s or George Zimmerman’s father, but I do know if I was either one of them my opinion about this case would be radically different than the opinion I have now. And if my opinion was different, I wouldn’t be totally wrong.

Which means: I’m not totally right.

This knowledge should bring humility, openness, ample room for others to disagree with me, and a desire to know the opinions of others to see where I might be wrong.

If this was our mindset in every issue of life, we would be much better for it.

278 Responses to What if Trayvon Martin was My Son?
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