So What Are You Going to Do About It? A Response to the Zimmerman Verdict

Posted: July 16, 2013 in Behavior
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ZimmermanTrialThere has been no shortage of opinions offered around the U.S. and beyond following the “not guilty” verdict of George Zimmerman in the murder of Trayvon Martin.  I don’t think the world needs any more opinions on the matter of his guilt or innocence, including my own.  The only truly educated opinions that matter come from those who were present in that courtroom and who have all of the information that is available, even if it is incomplete information.  Cries of guilt or innocence from others are based on incomplete information and factors such as emotions, histories and biases that presuppose much but prove nothing.

Having had some time to ponder the verdict, to watch reactions, and to read at least a few thoughtful, meaningful responses, I offer my response here:

So what are you going to do about it?  

I don’t mean that flippantly because this is nothing to take lightly.  I literally mean what actions are you going to take in response to what just unfolded before the nation and the world in this trial?  What are you going to do different this week than you might have done if the verdict had gone another way?  Are you going to be different on the inside because of this and, if so, what will that look like on the outside to others?

As I think about responses to the verdict from those in different roles and from different perspectives, I wonder about the following:

As a parent and grandparent, what will I teach my children and grandchildren about justice, about prejudice, about self-defense, and about how to answer the question “Who is my neighbor?”  Will my heart ache when I imagine the pain of parents who lost a child so senselessly and needlessly, and will I work to help prevent others from experiencing that same fate?

As a white man, will I try to understand the reaction of minorities who see all too many verdicts go against them (although in this case both parties involved were minorities)?

As a citizen, will I take action to improve laws that I believe to be inadequate?  Will I do my part to place in office those who can help make positive change?  Will I give of my time, energy and resources to change a justice system that too often allows injustice?  Will I get involved in my neighborhood watch program and work to make it function legally and reasonably?

As a Christian, will I mourn with those who mourn?  Will I pray not just for those who like me and are like me, but for those with whom I share little in common – even my enemies?  Will I represent Christ well in my compassion for all involved and in my desire for reconciliation between individuals, between races, and between people and God?  Will I step up my efforts at what I believe in my heart this world needs more than anything else, as the following tweet from Ed Stetzer, President of Lifeway Research reminded me Sunday morning?


What will I do different as a result of this verdict?  What will you do?  If all we plan is to spout our opinions and yell down those with whom we disagree, then we have missed the critical teachable moment in the midst of a tragedy.  We will miss the great opportunity to at least partly redeem a broken situation.  We will miss the call to mold the future for the better.

I know we all have our opinions of guilt or innocence.  I have mine.  But opinions aren’t what the world needs right now.  We need thoughtful, purposeful, reasoned action that makes a difference for this and future generations.

So What Are You Going to Do About It?


For some additional recommended reading related to the Zimmerman verdict, see:

  1. Very well said!!!! I loved this…thanks for listening to God in your heart.

  2. Judy Anders says:

    What am I going to do? I’ve taken a moment to take a look at the statue of justice: she wears a blindfold. That is meaningful. When seeking justice there are simply elements that need to be taken out of the equation when we try to find “justice.”

    “The justice statue’s blindfold represents impartiality and was added to common depictions of the statue during the 15th century. Lady Justice’s symbol of impartiality — the blindfold — reinforces the court’s devotion to the objective truth. The scales represent the need to weigh the different sides of the case. The justice statue’s sword is symbolic of justice’s power.”

    I’m going to remember that historically without order mankind falls into chaos.

  3. CrazyPanamanian says:

    I can’t say I know a lot about the case, I just know someone felt threatened and decided to use lethal force. The other person died. What is an accident, was it premeditated? Who knows.

    What I do know is that we are living in a world that is conditioning us to trust nobody. I walk through the streets expecting someone to jump out and try to rob me. I see someone on the street that may need help and I ignore them because they might be faking it. The list goes on.

    We are also starting to get in the habit of finding someone to blame. Accident? No! He made me do it.

    What will I do about it? Nothing exciting.

    I decided years ago that I would live by the Jesus code. Try do to everything with love and always do what I feel in my heart is right. I will strive to teach my children how to distinguish right from wrong, honesty from manipulation, and the benefit of doubt.

    Only the God I believe in knows what really happened.

  4. aldean riley says:

    As a African American who is 48 years old this case has a different meaning to me. As President Obama stated after the verdict, having been racial profile in store many time and may I add on the street its a unfair burden to carry. I’ve never broken in laws in my life and as a Air Force veterans was willing to die for my country. I take care of my wife of twenty seven years, have two college degrees with honors, built my own home, and live a blessed life. Still I have on many occasions been treated like I have broken a law and put under undeserved surveillance. For example as I was walking in for exercise in a public shopping center that I used to live next door to, an policeman approached and began to ask me what was I doing and offered to take me home. When he offered to take me home I became unglued and out my character told the officer off by telling when did the police become a taxi service. The officer then apologized and said some patrons in one of the restaurants had called and said I looked suspicious. The police officer drove away without incidence. When is walking for exercise suspicious activity, elderly are known for doing it in the mall all the time. On another occasion, one morning when I was helping my future wife move (not much older than Trayvon Martin at the time), police officers aggressively and for no reason accused me of changing my license plate and as I explained to the officers I hadn’t they wanted me to prove it. I went to open my trunk to show them something in my trunk they both pulled guns on me. My heart had never beat so fast in my life, as the officer told me I almost got shot. I had on a jogging outfit with pockets that were at the stomach and when I went to retrieve my car keys in my pockets to open my trunk as they instructed me to do, they pulled there guns. I showed them proof I hadn’t changed my car tags has they thought I had and one of the officers had better sense and told the other officer to back off and they drove away. Easily I could have been a static, a innocent fellow I guess at the wrong place at the wrong time. No being the wrong color.

    Seven years ago, took my wife to New York City. As a spectator at the Good Morning America concert one morning, the police started harassing me for no reason. Saying we couldn’t stand where I was as other people were behind me and beside me. For the life of me never understood what that was about to this day. We were enjoying the concert as anyone else, we don’t drink or take drugs, but the officer had a problem with us there for some reason. After ignoring his request with camera rolling on live TV, the officer finally gave up and went away. Maybe it had to do with we were the only African American at the country music concert that day. That’s the only thing I can think of, but still I don’t know. Having people locked there cars three and four time with there remotes can get to be a grind on a daily basis when they see me in the area. Like my Grandfather who was a self made millionare, I’m on a projection to be one myself, I can buy any car I want and pay cash for it. News flash: there may be a lot of African Americans in jail, but most African American are hard working law abiding citizens. We generate as a whole some $350 billions dollars a year in America. So we are tax paying and God fearing people too. Thank God, we are because America would go bankrupt trying to lock up and maintain 30 million additional people in our already overcrowded penitentiaries. .

    If Zimmerman, who by the way who has called 911 numerous times that turned out as wasted calls that cost us tax payer money, hadn’t played police officer and jury on a total stranger, the young man would be alive today. The young man had a right to defend himself, he was an American minding his own business. How would you react when some strange man is treating you like you’re doing something wrong on the street at night. Most people have weapons for this very reason, to defend themselves from crazy people. We do live in America with civil rights and liberty under the constitution. If I harass a white person like he did, then no doubt this story would have a different ending and spin on it. In parts of the middle east and other tyrant governments people are harassed on a regular basis for no or little cause. In America it is different, too bad it isn’t different for everyone. The land may be free, but for my people that has always had a different meaning. Since the first sixteen President were slave holders and it took a civil war to free us and another hundred years of jim Crow and indignities to put us where we are today.

    Since we didn’t come thru Ellis Island to the land of milk and honey, we had to stand in the shadows and fight for our Independence long after the Constitution was ratified. The year I was born the Civil Rights was passed in Congress. So not too long ago, my parents couldn’t vote, had to use separate bathrooms and put there lives on the line in marches to make a better day for me. The days are better but the struggle continues. As Dr. Martin Luther King said “let us be judged on our character and not the color of one’s skin”. It is ironic 50 years after Dr. King said these words in the I have dream speech, we are still dealing with these issue. In the bible days, Israel still fought it enemy all around her and to this day it still does thousands of years later. I think 500 years from now in America not much would will have changed. I hate to say it ,but times may change, but people don’t.

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