Why has the Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman ruling grabbed America by the throat and not let go?
- Because a young black man lost his life.
- Because a young hispanic man has had his nearly destroyed.
- Because the media need to manufacture crises to make money.
- Because it shows prejudice (on both sides) is still alive and well and needs to be addressed, continually.
- Because it is a tragic story filled with grief.
- Because depending on your opinion, it may or may not represent a miscarriage of justice.
- Because we have a great human ability to care about tragedy and suffering.
- Because we too often prefer to express our concern about tragedy and suffering from a distance.
C.S. Lewis makes this last point after attempting to answer the theological question, “What about the people in Africa who may never hear about Jesus?” Though a valid question, Lewis wonders how often we pose it to move the debate away from our own hearts and lives.
In other words, it’s safe to be passionate and outraged (on both sides) about the Martin/Zimmerman tragedy because we don’t really have to do anything about it. We don’t have to look our actual neighbors in the eye and care or stop judging.
This distance is an old and common dodge. A slick young lawyer tried it when Jesus told the story of the Good Samaritan.
“Who’s my neighbor?” the lawyer deflects, putting that safe distance between him and his guilt and the needy.
“You are,” Jesus answers. To whomever is near you.
P.S. Whenever I write about a current hot topic or name drop in my blog, I feel sleazy and cheap. So, please, my friends, Jesus, and the late Mr. Lewis, forgive the piling on and name dropping.