A few hours ago the ruling of “not guilty” by a six-women jury permeated the now infamous courtroom in Stanford, Florida, as George Zimmerman will not serve any jail time for killing unarmed African-American teenager Trayvon Martin.
Twitter is blowing up. I had to shut it off. So much heartache as well as so many crazy blasphemous 140 character statements, and nothing anyone can do about them. I pray for peace tonight and the coming days for forthcoming protests sure to happen around the country.
I did have a few quick thoughts about this situation and the American judicial system:
It’s broken and it will never be fixed. Ever.
Recent history alone:
Any of the idiotic rulings continually letting Paris Hilton and Lindsey Lohan off the hook.
There is such a thing as white privilege. There is such a thing as celebrity bias. And there is most definitely such a thing as a corrupt and inept judicial system.
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I have said this for years–regardless of what the “court” rules on anything, including the Supreme Court, it is of lesser importance than public engagement with the given topic. Always has been. Always will be. Just take last month’s Supreme Court ruling on DOMA and Prop 8. The law changed, but did millions of conservatives who had fought against gay marriage for years just change with it? Will those same traditional marriage conservatives now look at, and treat their LGBT married opponents (dare I say “neighbors”) differently because a law changed? Unfortunately, they will not.
The “court” can rule whatever they want and it does not mean that all of a sudden the masses’ moral convictions, strength of worldview or imputed systems of relational engagement just leave a person and then they change. That is not how the world works.
Too many people put too much stock in the judicial system “making things right.” A judge. A jury. They will never “make things right.”
Even if by law only, they “make things right, ” it changes nothing for the masses within the portion of the structure that believe the opposite. If anything, it fires them up for the “injustice” placed upon them through disagreement. This goes both ways.
Famed sociologist Max Weber’s research and theory for social stratification understands that social change hinges on an individual’s value-oriented system of action (particularly with strongly held value systems like religion, politics and organizational power), which produces wide-spread characteristic shifts in social situations and structures. In essence, the actions of the corporate individual(s) determine the social structure.
This means that the system (judicial or otherwise) is broken because our individual ability to make wide-spread and consistent decisions toward value-oriented outcomes of justice filled with a process of integrity, are severely stifled. Stifled not by the system, but by our own doing. Therefore if the incapacitated mass, made up of broken individuals, create the boundaries of our current system, why would we ever think the system will then be able to save us or “make things right?”
Systemic justice is an illusion.
It is one we should all strive for, indeed. But banking on the system to lead the way is flawed.
Banking on ourselves as individuals to start shifting the trend in a new direction whether anyone hops on board or not–now that is something I believe in.
I believe in it because it is based in something we can all control–ourselves. Our actions. Our engagement. Our beliefs. Our relationships. Our outlook toward humanity.
This is why everybody is so pissed tonight. They see something horrible in an inept system ruled on by our “peers” and cannot control one ounce of it.
Riots won’t change the ruling.
Neither will peaceful protests, no matter how many people.
Even if the presiding judge sees 100 million people peacefully protesting the ruling tomorrow, it was the jury of our “own peers” that made this decision. We made this decision.
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And we (humanity) made this decision, and thousands of others just like it, because we’re broken.
Change the relationship of daily engagement and by generation, we’ll effectively change the “peers” of our own system.
Be upset that justice was not served.
Be more upset that we contributed to it.
Start living differently. It’s literally our only hope this side of Jesus’ return.
Andrew Marin is President and Founder of The Marin Foundation. He is author of the award winning book, Love is an Orientation (2009), and its interactive DVD curriculum (2011). Andrew is a regular contributor to a variety of media outlets and frequently lectures at universities around the world. Since 2010 Andrew has been asked by the United Nations to advise their various agencies on issues of bridging opposing worldviews, civic engagement and theological aspects of reconciliation. He blogs at Love is an Orientation and is married to Brenda. Andrew splits his time between the LGBT Boystown neighborhood of Chicago and St. Andrews, Scotland, where he is a PhD candidate in Cultural Theology at the University of St. Andrews. His research focuses on cultural, political and religious dynamics of reconciliation.
This post originally appeared at Andrew’s Daily Blog, Love is an Orientation
Photo Credit: Jacob Langston/Orlando Sentinel/AP Photo
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