by Joe Thomas
I am overwhelmed by sadness.
I am not sad because justice was not done. There is no real justice for a murderer. There is nothing “just” when the victim can never be returned to their family. There is no punishment that can ease the pain or fill the void of a life taken too soon. Had this man been found guilty of murder, it would not heal those against whom the crime was done. Do I wish he had been convicted? Absolutely. A conviction would have shown those who would wield false power that they are not exempt from the requirements of society. A conviction would have ensured that this pseudo-John Wayne would not feel that he was justified in his misguided attempt to play policeman. A conviction would have strengthened a nation’s wavering faith in it’s systems of law. But that is not why I am sad tonight.
I am sad because the idea that makes our country succeed; the idea that we are all citizens of a great nation that treats us equally and fairly, has once again been proven to be little more than foolish naivete. We so often throw the word “value” around in our arguments about human life. Why did the life of this young man who was gunned down lack the value that is attributed to others? Did his actions, whatever they were, devalue his life to the point that he no longer deserved to keep it? I would argue that those who are defending the actions of the man who walks free tonight may have judged this value as soon as they saw his picture.
Tonight as I fall asleep I will think of Trayvon Martin and I will think of the Martin family. I will think of all of the other people killed unfairly whose lives were deemed so valueless that they weren’t even given attention. I will think of George Zimmerman, and hope that in the courtroom of his consciousness he is forced to re-examine the crime he committed and that he finds a way to learn the value of every human life. I will think of all these people, and when I wake up tomorrow I will do my best to ensure that in spite of this tragedy, we grow into a nation where people are not viewed as deserving of a violent death, but rather cherished as what they are: people. And that’s all.