George Zimmerman Trial: Nobody Wins?
One of the potential jurors for the George Zimmerman trial was asked to summarize this case in three points: She replied, “One man lost his life, one man is fighting for his life, and nobody wins”. As the trial has unfolded, many people have privately expressed their concerns with the exact same sentiment, “nobody wins”.
At face value, I understand the thought. Even in the best legal outcome for George Zimmerman, he will always carry the burden of that night and this trial. In a recent interview with CNN, defense attorney Mark O’Mara stated:
“My client will never be safe. There are a percentage of the population who are angry, they are upset, they may well take it out on him. So he’ll never be safe”.
The loss is greater for the Martin family. Even if George Zimmerman is found guilty of murder, no measure of human justice will ever be adequate to bring back their son. Nobody wins.
A concern being voiced throughout our community is that there will be negative public reactions to the outcome of the trial. There are fears that violent forces and outside groups might use the occasion of this trial to bring trouble to the Sanford community. Nobody wins.
But, there are some good things that can come from this bad situation. Romans 8:28 promises “God works all things for the good of those who love him and are called according to his purpose.” All things? Even this tragic encounter? Even this community disruption? Do we have the eyes to see the good that is being brought forth by the Lord even now?
I want to name some “wins” for the kingdom of God from this trial. Sanford Pastors Connecting is a good thing which has come as a direct result of this trial. There is now a denominationally diverse, multi-racial group of clergy, representing rich and poor who are having regular conversations and prayer with one another. Sadly such communications have been far too long in coming. But now, there have been frank exchanges, offers of repentance and forgiveness. We have swapped pulpits, and we served the community together. While we may have different perspectives on the issues related to the trial, we share a common posture of prayer. We are united under one Lord, reconciled in Jesus Christ.
Another great development coming from this trial is a new level of community conversation and engagement between law enforcement and the community. Mistrust in this particular relationship is one of the main challenges this trial has highlighted. The good news is that Sanford and Seminole County law enforcement officials and the community, represented by the pastors, are now sitting at the table together developing a relationship and sharing hopes, concerns and fears with one another. This is an unprecedented opportunity for mutual understanding and trust to develop within our community.
Finally, we have been given an incredible opportunity as a community to learn from others about our own mistakes, prejudices and reactions. Human anxiety can see and assume the worst in each other. One of the main lessons we can learn from this experience is the need to speak words of grace and to be charitable in our assumptions about those whom we do not yet know.
Only the Lord sees the motivations of the heart. He perceives the thoughts of our minds. Indeed, all of us have a sin nature capable of accomplishing great evil and harm. However, every person is also made in the image of God and capable of great good. Rather than assuming and calling forth the worst in one another, we can seek and summon the better virtues.
Here are some questions for discussion: What good do you see coming from the challenges of this trial? What lessons can we learn as a people from this experience?