Contend or content?
America has weighed in on the Trayvon Martin case. Mixed reviews have provoked actions that were positive and in some cases negative. Several believe that this is a matter of racism, while some conclude that it was an unfortunate accident based on self-defense. What causes a nation to become so enraged? Social media pages are swamped with profile picture that replicate the image of the described victim. His peers have led massive walk-outs, in protest. National medias have kept this as one of the top five headlines and we are informed of updates on a regular basis.
It is interesting to assess the responses to this matter because there is something that beckons us to respond in some manner. This seems to be a matter that warrants a conversation, whether in the coffee shop, the morning walk, or a more organized forum in the presence of thousands. The question I pose is relative to those who have remained silent. Is this silence or lack of a more obvious response, because of contentment? Is there concurrence with the actions and a feeling that such actions were justified? Is this silence giving consent to laws that create such opportunities in our present society? If this is the case, then it would appear that there is no reason to stand up and speak out, because of the perceived state of peace in our local communities. However, there is a danger in this continuing of “business as usual” and the “I’m not affected or impacted” mindset. It contrasts with the teachings of the peace advocate Dr. King, who taught that; “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere”.
This is also not an opportunity to violate the values and principles of what has shaped our society to become healthy, educated, and moral. Encased therein are the components of; the rights and entitlements of liberty, equal opportunities for a basic education, a personal and community sense of physical and mental security, and the direct and indirect participation in legislature. Therefore, silence intentional, misunderstood or otherwise, is not the appropriate response at this time, to this most unfortunate incident. The question then becomes what should be our response?
Leaders, elected, appointed, or commissioned, at every echelon should be seeking ways to seize this moment to speak to their respective communities to achieve at a minimum the following. First, a careful assessment of policies and procedures governing neighborhood watch programs. Next, there needs to be a detailed review of any self-defense legislation that may have been for the benefit, of the select, but became the burden of the (selected). Then, leadership should ensure their respective communities by virtue of its actions, sincere concerns, and dutiful officials that its citizens can be content although they may contend with what has happened. While some students are walking out of school, let us go to the schools and evidence what we will not allow because of who we are, and what we have become. Instead of destroying retails and giving the appearance that any violence and disobedience is justified, let us develop relations that guarantee the acceptance of all people, all generations, and validate that dress should never pose a threat.
As a fellow citizen and parent, I sympathize with the Martin family in their loss. As an ordained Methodist Elder, I believe that God has assigned a death appointment to all of His creation. I further believe that mankind contributes to the manner in which that appointment is kept. The published information regarding this case is gut wrenching and most unsettling. It is clear that we have not arrived and have much progress to make to live out the intent of our constitution, particularly, those parts that speak about; being equal, “entitled to certain inalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”. As a nation we have made great progress. Situations like these, beckon us to take assessment of how far we’ve come, while carefully examining where we need to go. Are you content with what has happened or are you prepared to contend with these actions and assist in shaping the next level of the journey?
Rev. Alonzo Braggs