People all around America are abuzz, talking about the Florida jury’s decision to acquit Zimmerman on charges of murder and manslaughter of 17-year old Trayvon Martin. The moral outrage Americans are communicating in response to the verdict in the George Zimmerman trial is painfully split. Believe me, I have been hearing and reading many differing sides and splits. But what is important is not what side of the split you are residing, but the split itself. Why? Because anytime one of us is caught in a split, we are no longer in the “flow”.
When we listen to what is known about this case, the fact remains that we really do not know what actually happened. Was Zimmerman acting out some paranoid, racist, hero-vigilante identification? Or was Zimmerman fearfully fighting for his life? Was Trayvon an innocent, typical teen just out to get snacks, or was he getting himself into trouble by expressing some unresolved teenage angst? We can have our biases, but there’s really no way to know what actually happened.
So given that we don’t know for sure, why are so many people being so emotionally reactive, and taking such hardline pro or against stances?
In response to this case, I’ve heard people in my circles argue their own differing views. I’ve heard things like:
- Zimmerman was a hero,
- Zimmerman was a racist murderer,
- Worry that our gun control rights may be taken away,
- Wish that guns were abolished in this country,
- White supremacists are in control of our country,
- We need to be able to carry weapons to protect ourselves from violent people,
- Blacks are discriminated against all too often,
- This is Obama’s fault (I didn’t quite get that one?),
The anger and outrage that is being elicited from the differing sides is exemplifying the pain and suffering that can arise when different groups take rigid positions on one side or another of any situation. When people take different sides, a split or chasm arises. There are so many splits in this case, including: good/bad, right/wrong, hero/murderer, racist/non-racist, black/white, pro-guns/anti-guns, etc/etc.
Anytime I choose to reside on one side of a split, I am taking a stance, from which my point of view is right, and the other side’s is wrong. Since I am all the way over on this side of the split, I cannot even fathom the other side’s point of view. This separates me from the other side, such that I begin to dislike, judge, condemn, and possibly even hate the other side, making it easier for me to take negative actions against my separate enemy. Basically, I do whatever I need to communicate, justify and protect my side of the split.
When I moved to this country at 5-years old from Kuwait, my siblings and I had strong Arab accents, and we did not speak English very well. The other kids were very cruel to us. I even had rocks thrown at me, and the other kids regularly teased me and called me vile names. Why? All because I was different! I was on the other side.
No human being should ever have to experience discrimination because of his or her race, language, background, or for any reason! It makes no sense, because at our cores, we are all the same – human beings trying to be happy and make it in this world.
The fact remains, a beautiful young man’s life was snuffed out before he even reached his prime. Why? Because he and Zimmerman fell into one or more of these splits. We just don’t know who, fell into which splits.
Perhaps it’s idealistic and unrealistic to expect mankind to stop creating divisive splits, and instead start to work together with a common love and respect for one another. But if we don’t start working towards this middle ground that can hold all of it, with no splits, we may all eventually fall into this hole together.
According to the Center for American Progress, 30% of the U.S. population are made up of men of color, while a whopping 60% of the U.S. male prison populations are represented by men of color. This should indicate to all Americans, that as a society, we are failing men of color – BIGTIME! Isn’t it time that we, as fellow human beings begin to address this huge split?
I constantly hear people say that we need to take responsibility for the divides that occur in our country. Since I feel that I have not personally taking any actions that support or promote racism, discrimination, drug abuse, cruelty, or violence, I have been contemplating this question of how I can take responsibility for what’s going on?
This is what I’ve uncovered….. Every time I inwardly cringe away from someone because he or she looks different from what I am used to, I am adding to the energetic pool that supports racism and discrimination. I need to use mindful awareness to notice when I am closing my heart to different groups of people, and choose instead to open my heart to everyone.
Every time I use any kind of substance (drugs, alcohol, food, etc) to escape my reality, or to have fun & excitement, I am also adding to the greater pool of energy that promotes drug abuse, alcoholism, and over-eating. If I am engaging in such behaviors, even the tiniest bit, I need to stop judging other people stuck in this painful loop of escapism and/or pleasure-seeking, and instead practice compassion and understanding for our shared human weaknesses. If I do find myself lost in an addiction, it is my responsibility to go get some help and stop!
Finally, every time I get angry at myself, or others and either imagine or actually take any actions that cause me or others any harm, I am also contributing to that big old ocean of cruelty and violence that humans keep hurting each other with. I need to consciously choose to practice patience, love, compassion, and kindness towards myself and all beings.
What I have figured, is that each one of us individually may not be able to control other people’s behavior and stop the Zimmerman/Martin tragedies from occurring. But, we can start looking honestly and openly at our own choices and actions and start making the internal changes we need to make to STOP contributing to the energetic stream that feeds these dangerous “splits”. And maybe, just maybe, someday, these splits will dissolve, and we humans can live in peace, love, and harmony together. One can dream!
Written by: Ronya Banks
I would love to hear your experience of getting stuck in painful splits and how you work with similar situations…comment below