Our Sunny, Warm Yet Very Sad Week

 
 

Last week was a week that highlighted the paradoxes
we often experience in this oddball and wondrous life we live briefly on this
little planet of ours. In the Northeast we enjoyed some relief from the deep
freeze snow globe we have been locked into this winter by that polar vortex.
Not only did our temps get warmer, but the constant precipitation became
intermittent and we were treated to several sunny days when our lips did not
freeze together every time we left the house. So we couldn’t help but feel a
lightening of our spirits; a certain buoyant happiness that was unconscious and
irrepressible. We had to live through this glimpse of spring quickly because we
were assured that our return to the deep freeze was only one week away.

 

The paradox was that this was quite a sad week in
the news. Watching the nations of the world that are struggling to be free is
weird and hard.  We feel guilty that we
are merely watching these events. It helps when our government offers support,
or aid, or diplomacy. Still, when we see people putting their lives on the line
to remove the foot of a dictator from their necks and their lives, something in
our psyche tells us we should be somewhere in that fray. Perhaps this is a
primitive urge because it isn’t our fray, but watching the Ukrainian people
stand up to a powerful leader who wanted to take them places they did not want
to go, we couldn’t help but be sad for those who gave up their lives to give
other people power against a sanctioned bully. This situation has resolved
itself into tempered joy because it looks like something very rare has happened
and the people have won without having to go to full-out war. Their deposed
leader refuses to accept that he is deposed so there may be more strife ahead,
but for now we all hope for the best.

 

This past week we also saw that people had to go in
and rescue Syrian children and families from a war zone, where bombs and
bullets were still flying in order to help them get to refugee camps to restore
some normalcy in their everyday lives and to make sure they did not starve. Our
hawks and our military, who are used to being knights on white horses who ride
to the rescue of the downtrodden, (a decidedly idealistic view of what we do)
are having a very hard time staying on the sidelines and the little hawk within
each of us wonders if we are doing the right thing by staying out of Syria,
although we actually think we are.  The
sadness of Syria has been heavy on our hearts for a long time now but from the
gray deep freeze it seemed all of a piece with our general mood. Last week’s
sunshine, however, put us at odds with the stresses all around us in the world.

 

The third sad thing for me was the outcome of the
trial of Michael Dunn who shot Jordan Davis. Is this what America will be now,
people with guns picking off people (kids) who tick them off. Michael Dunn is
a stone-cold killer to me, protected by racial fear and the laws engendered by
it. Stand Your Ground is a terrible law which, if left on the books, should
only apply to situations where someone is obviously ready to take another
person’s life with obviously being the key word, and not just something that is
happening in your paranoid imagination. So we lose another good teen, a kid who
was perhaps being a bit provocative by continuing to play his music after
someone in the general area expressed his displeasure. That is just teenaged
stuff, the action of someone whose immaturity fights with his common sense,
something that might not have happened if he were not so young. I am shocked
that one young man shot by mistake was not enough. I am shocked that this same
senseless and tragic thing happened again and so soon. It doesn’t bode well for
the future, but it does suggest that this law is a bad law and should be
overturned. These two shootings, leading to the waste of two promising young
lives, could perhaps help us learn to stop living such separate lives. Many
white people no longer go into their inner city neighborhoods and many minority
people never leave their neighborhoods. There may be good cultural reasons for
this, but I don’t think so. I think this “separation by race and income” is
more likely to lead to misunderstanding and even mayhem than to healthy social
interaction.

 

And the fourth sad news of last week came out of
North Korea in that horrific report by the UN about what goes on in North
Korean prison camps. Those graphic drawings by someone who was no artist, but
who had to get these inhumane details down on paper in a way that would
communicate across language barriers, were unbearably reminiscent of the
accounts of the treatment of Jews and other prisoners in Nazi concentration
camps. We have no idea how to interfere in this, but we may not be able to live
with ourselves if we don’t.

So despite our sunny mid-winter thaw, last week was,
all in all, a tough week for the world’s people; (we can’t forget Venezuela)
both the participants and, to a lesser degree the observers. Paradoxes exist
everywhere, but we poor humans are not always comfortable living with this
coexistence of opposites.
 
By Nancy Brisson
This is the view from the cheap seats.
This blog post is also available at http://brissioni.com/
 

 

Trayvon Martin, One Year Later

 
It has been a year since Trayvon Martin was killed in
Sanford, Florida. I have my suspicions about why it is taking so long to bring
George Zimmerman to trial. Perhaps the delay has to do with waiting for the
“stand your ground” decision. Perhaps the delay is about letting emotions die
down. However, given the strong support for gun owners right now, this may not
even be the best time for this case to be tried. Can we expect to see the kind
of objectivity that is needed to sort out this emotionally-charged scenario?

 There are three
points I would like to make about this case in which we are trying to attribute
guilt to a teenager walking to a convenience store to get a package of
Skittles, apparently just because he did the unthinkable thing; he defended
himself.

1.      
Why doesn’t “stand your ground” apply to Trayvon
Martin as well as George Zimmerman? He was in his own neighborhood or at least
a neighborhood where he spent part of his time with his father and his father’s
girlfriend. And if “stand your ground” applies to both of these young men then
it should be eliminated as a consideration because it won’t help either the
living George Zimmerman or the deceased Trayvon Martin. Set “stand your ground”
aside in this case.

2.      
Everyone seems to accept the reasoning that
because George Zimmerman is a member of a minority group there couldn’t
possibly be any racism involved. But George Zimmerman is a very light-skinned
Hispanic man and he was looking for the thieves who had been around the development
who obviously had darker skin than he did. He did assume that since Trayvon
Martin had darker skin than he did and was traversing the neighborhood that he
was probably one of the thieves or that he was guilty of something. He was so
upset when police did not respond immediately to his call that he took the law
into his own hands. If it looks like racism and smells like racism, it probably
is racism.

3.      
Did Trayvon Martin defend himself too well? We
will never know what was going through Trayvon’s head when he caught George
Zimmerman following him and then realized that Zimmerman had a gun, but in the
culture we live in, Trayvon’s response to this stalking might be considered a
normal reaction.

George Zimmerman killed an innocent man because he jumped to
some incorrect conclusions and acted on them – a set of circumstances which,
historically, has led to much injustice. He is guilty not of standing his
ground, but of vigilante justice. Sometimes good people do bad things.

As for the Martins – America still feels your loss and we
are sorry for it.