Thursday, July 18, 2013

LOVE, Racism, And Media Manipulation

I'm not sure where to start really, but I will say that the situation is not as hopeless as it seems. Let me say a few things about Trayvon Martin, I hope to offer a perspective that few others have. T Thorn Coyle in her article, Confronting Racism is Spiritual Work, makes a great argument for considering this incident from a spiritual perspective. Her argument is not that we should turn this over to the Divine in hopes of a solution from on high, but rather we should solve the problem of racism as a matter of respect for the Creator. God Herself is watching to see how we handle this and many others matters on this planet. You see the way we treat creation is a reflection of our spiritual values. The reason so many people in modern society have disdain for the institutions of faith is that so many of them have violated the position of trust with which they have been vested. When people of Good Faith, regardless of tradition, begin to work together for the good of all, there will be no problem that cannot be healed by them. 

Let me get back to the Trayvon Martin tragedy for a moment, why is this important? On one level it matters because of the subtext of race and suspicion in America, for instance many Americans of European Heritage (I refuse to use "white" as it is an artifice)  have just learned about "the talk". As a punk rock son of of a baby boomer, I was given a similar talk in my teen years, although mine was a lot more about my choices and how they would be perceived rather than about how I would be perceived because of my skin color. The more disturbing aspect of this story, in my opinion, is the way the media chose to manipulate all of us with this tragedy. One of the main reasons it made the national headlines was because it involved racial tension, and nothing distracts people from the facts more than emotion. Reread that sentence. Yes I really believe that the national media in this country emotionally manipulates all of us away from the truth and exploits the weak spots in our national character. We as a nation keeping avoiding "the talk" about racial justice, inequality, and the nature of love.

Love? Yes, that thorny four letter word that Visionaries like Jesus, John Lennon, Mother Jones, and Ira Sendler use so eloquently. The reason that I bring up love is that I believe it is the only thing that will cure this illness. I'm talking about love as a real world skill that must be practiced in order to realize its full expression. If one does not practice what Erich Fromm calls "an act of will", one loses a sense of connectivity to others and fails to find fulfillment. The most successful way to develop trust and strengthen ties with others is communication. Only love can open one up to have the soul searching conversation this illness demands. It must start with people of European descent. We must give up the vestiges of privilege that the artifice of "whiteness" conveys. We must love our fellow humans enough to stop the injustices committed by the cultural imperialism of ages long past. We must accept that we can affect change only within ourselves and that there are many voices in this conversation. We must take responsibility for our wrongs, either by listening or educating. We must be willing to stand with our brothers and sisters against injustice. Love will guide us all towards these goals. Love can no longer be a platitude we give lip service in the houses of the holy, it must become a rally point for action.

This is why the media will continue to highlight these cases and ignore gun violence in general. When speaking of teen deaths alone the numbers are far too high, but when you start looking at all gun related deaths it is simply tragic. Why is it that every media outlet in the country was all over the Martin/Zimmerman case but only the Huffington Post  has carried the story of Temar Boggs on a national level? Because of our susceptibility. Yes, that's right, as long as we continue to let the media manipulate us through our fears, prejudices, and  lack of compassion, they will continue to do so.I have seen internet memes that ask what if Mr. Zimmerman offered Mr. Martin a ride home that night, would the outcome have been different? I don't know, but if Mr. Zimmerman had just once broke down and cried over the fact that he killed another human being, regardless of race and age, maybe we would be having a very different conversation.

I believe, and this only my opinion, that the utter lack of compassion shown by Mr. Zimmerman is why so many can not accept the verdict. The jury did what they believed to be right under Florida law, which is the real miscarriage of justice. The Stand Your Ground Law (SYGL) is not about love or compassion. It is sad that our society has gotten to a place where we are legally sanctioning murder, and members of our nation applaud it. This is on American soil and has nothing to do with drones. We as a society have begun to say that life is so insignificant that if you feel sufficiently threatened by someone you can kill them.That was Marissa Alexanders mistake, she did not kill her husband, so the state of Florida punished her for respecting life. Yes it is that simple, and no I am not being dramatic. The facts are there.

Back to love. Here we are in a nation that claims to build its laws and ethics on a Christian foundation. I am not strictly christian nor am I anti christian, many great things, such as the abolitionist movement, for example, were accomplished by christians throughout time, as were horrors. So I maintain a fairly neutral stance on christianity. That being said, one of the basic tenets of the christian faith is respect for life, right there in Exodus 20:13 "Thou shall not Kill". Then Jesus commanded his followers to love one another as they loved themselves. So why do we as a nation have laws sanctioning murder? Fear of love. Love erases boundaries, class distinctions, and bonds us together as humans. With love we get to actually appreciate one another as individuals rather than a race, an age, a social class, or any division our minds can devise. There is no longer a need for hierarchy based on artifice. Will some lose their privilege? I guess, if you call coercion reinforced by violence a privilege. That is what racism is, the erroneous belief that by accident of birth one has the right to devalue another life and to build institutions of power to reinforce this so called right.

In the spirit of George Carlin, I will call this what it is: HORSE SHIT. Most of the time I do not condone vulgarity when trying to make a reasoned argument, especially about love, but sometimes the truth can not be expressed in any other way.When we are brave enough to love in a manner that allows us to be vulnerable, to be empathetic, open to other perspectives, perhaps we will heal not only our wounds but others wounds as well. When we can honestly in perfect love and perfect trust enter into each others houses, with a willingness to help and to learn, then we will grow the flower of love. Goddess bless you all.

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