I am curious about how people around the world are responding to the case and verdict involving the death by gunshot of 17 year old Trayvon Martin inflicted by George Zimmerman, an adult and possibly overzealous neighborhood watch leader. I am also curious about how people from other countries view American culture with regard to fear and violence.
Legally speaking, the justice system in America has many loopholes and can go only so far in uncovering truth or restoring a sense of balance in society. It will probably be legally impossible to prove beyond the shadow of a doubt that racial profiling was involved in the death of this young man. A jury has just decided that there was insufficient evidence to prove that George Zimmerman was not attacked by young Trayvon. Nevertheless, a young life was lost, and for some reason, there were no consequences issued for the perpetrator of the “murder”. George Zimmerman can still legally possess and carry a firearm. Killing someone in self defense is considered legal, and the legal system was not able to prove that George Zimmerman was not defending himself. Notably, Florida and Texas have laws on their books in which if a person states that “they are in fear for their life”, they need no other justification in order to kill another human being and call it self-defense.
It seems reprehensible to many people that George Zimmerman followed and provoked fear in this young man, possibly causing the young boy to want to protect himself from this potential aggressor. In any case, the death of Trayvon aroused great emotion in the United States because we live in a fear-based society in which people take sides and desire to protect themselves from one another. I don’t know if in human societies it is possible, as it currently stands, to reduce or eliminate fearfulness as a way of life. In my opinion, the American media constantly seeds fear in the minds and hearts of citizens by constantly bombarding us with frightening images and events, conditioning us to expect our fellow man (or even child or teen) to be dangerous and unpredictable, and very likely armed with lethal weapons.
This conditioning has tremendous ramifications. Leadership in America, our culture, our media all need to take responsibility for the consequences of this constant reinforcement of fear. In my mind, if we wish to change our society and prevent further suffering from this constant escalation of fear and violence, then we need to change the images we share and promote publicly. We also need to change the way we raise and educate our children. Despite efforts to promote “diversity” and tolerance, the basic structure of our culture and mindset is designed around competitiveness, fear or suspicion of others, separation, and individual success. Most Americans are trained to promote individuality and separation, and modern technology contributes to this sense of isolation. Community is secondary to individualism, and this may be why Americans love guns so much. Guns give a sense of power and emphasize otherness as being a threat over which the individual bearing a gun has an advantage.
In cultures emphasizing community over individuality, only specific group- regulating forces such as police would probably have access to devices allowing rogue groups or individuals going against the grain of the community to be controlled. To me, the question is not what type of culture or community is best, because when love is not the motivating factor of all life and culture, then violence will inevitably ensue – no matter what values the group espouses. Ultimately, the question of separation must be confronted. When we realize that separateness from others is an illusion, we will begin to make progress and move towards eliminating violence from our societies.
Today, if we wish to greatly reduce and eventually eliminate violence and prejudice, we need to do some serious thinking about the nature of reality and how we choose to perceive our world and each other. I personally believe that if American culture emphasized above all love, inter-connectedness and compassion in every aspect of society and daily life, that George Zimmerman would have been more in tune with himself, his own shadow areas, and he would have likely responded in a very different manner to young Trayvon as he encountered him on the street that evening.
I don’t think it is too naive or idealistic to think that one day people might begin to understand that the way we look at the world is simply unrealistic today. We are not separate from one another. It is also food for thought to consider that what we consider to be primitive peoples and cultures today are actually more in sync with reality. Primitive magical thinking in which objects and non-speaking creatures possess spirits is in actuality closer to the truth of reality than is our so-called objective materialist scientific philosophy of the universe.
Science and spirituality are beginning to merge and share a unified vision of reality. In this paradigm, everything is inter-connected, and every action or choice we make affects everything and everyone that exists. This includes our thoughts and intentions as well as our feelings. Cultures can be very slow to evolve, but our interactions with our environment – both natural and cultural – have become dangerous for our personal and collective survival. It is time to rethink how we live on our planet, with ourselves, and with one another. The truth is that we are not as smart as we think we are, and yet if we choose to do so, we can connect to a higher intelligence that allows us to make better choices that allow everyone and everything to benefit from those choices. To be better informed is to be connected. Not to the internet, but to the force of life itself, which is pure wisdom.
What do you think?