We All See through Our Own Lens

photo credit: ericmay via photopin cc
photo credit: ericmay via photopin cc
My head is swirling from the news of the verdict.  My heart hurts.
And if you asked me what I think of the acquittal, the response, and the role race played in the whole thing, my honest answer would be this:
I don’t know. 
I don’t know.  There is so much I don’t know.  There is so much we all don’t know.
Is the reaction to the case more about race than the actual incident or the verdict?  Would the outcome have been the same if the child were white, Hispanic, Asian?  To what extent was thisparticular tragedy driven by racial motivations?  Would the verdict have been different if the victim or the defendant were a different race?
Yes, we can speculate. But remember the verdicts in the trials of Casey Anthony and OJ Simpson.  Both acquitted.
I don’t know.
What I do know is that we all react to this verdict, and this tragedy, through our own unique lens.
I react  as a woman.  I react as a mother who can’t imagine losing a child.  I react as a parent who wants a safe neighborhood for my children and has looked upon kids gathering at the street corners with worry.  I react as a teacher who has seen kids not always make smart choices.  I react as a citizen who thinks we are often more vocal about protecting guns in this country than we are about protecting children.   I react as someone who has lived in the North and in the South and knows racial tensions are present in both places.
And, I react as a white person who does not know what it feels like to react as someone of any other race.
This morning I felt sick to my stomach flipping through the news channels.  I landed on one station where three white people sat on a couch and complained about civil rights leaders and their responses to this case.  Three white people.
I’m sorry, but if you are white and male and heterosexual you do not get to be a critic of civil rights voices,especially without other representation in the room.  To be fair, there was one woman.  There was 1 of 3 total voices represented who had a shared experience of  belonging to a class of individuals who had ever been denied civil rights, who had ever been less than equal to the heterosexual white man.  But, as I remember, she was silent as her white, male colleagues bemoaned the work of civil rights leaders in our country today.
I quickly realized I needed to sort through this without the TV and internet.  Without all the anger and angles and sound bites.
Here is what I know:
A child was killed.
Parents mourn.
The child was unarmed.
The child was killed by an adult.
The law and our legal system allowed (allows) for this to happen.
Here is what I don’t know:
The outcome that night had the child had been any other race.
The verdict had the child had been any other race.
The verdict had the defendant been any other race.
And, I don’t know the details of what actually happened that night.  
And, I’m guessing, neither do you.
Not really, anyway.  Sure, we all have our theories.   Some based on actual information gathered from reading or listening to the news and others based purely on speculation.  Even the six jurors who sat through the trial and heard all the details of this case don’t really know what happened that night.
We all speculate based on what we see through our own lens.  A lens created by our unique set of collective life experiences.  
I can’t help but wonder the following.  How would we each react if we actually witnessed the incident.  With the actual facts in front of us, how would our reaction be different?  Would we all agree this was an open and shut case?  Would we all agree on the degree to which race was or was not a factor?  Would we all agree this was a senseless tragedy?  Would we all mourn for the loss of a child?  Would we all forgive the man who pulled the trigger?
I don’t know.
So, rather than argue over who is right and who is wrong, when I really don’t know, I’m going to try to do something different with all this emotion.  I’m going to try to accept that sometimes, I don’t know.  I’m going to try to speculate less.  I’m going to try to respect the lens through which another experiences the world.
And, I’m going to pray for the family of Trayvon Martin and for George Zimmerman.
Will you join me?


  1. This was eloquent and lovely. Thank you for sharing your peaceful thoughts.

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