© 2013 John Casimir O'Keefe

A Larger Discord

By now, everyone knows the verdict is in; Zimmerman was acquitted of all charges. With that being said, I am sure the debate will continue over if the verdict was fare or not. While I will not deny anyone the right to voice their opinion concerning the verdict I wonder if the debate over the verdict is taking us away from the conversation we need to be having, or is it drawing us to having a wider debate? In that question, i think we move away from the wider discourse we need to be having.

If we focus on one case, we lose site of the wider picture –

We should have an open, honest and frank discourse over race in America; and…

We should have an open honest and frank discourse over racial justice in America

We should have an open, honest and frank discourse over sexual equality

We should have an open, honest and frank discourse over poverty

We should have an open, honest and frank discourse over child abuse

We should have an open, honest and frank discourse over gender equality

There are many things we need to be talking about, and none of them is over the other. The idea of solving or addressing one before we move to the next puts us in the either/or debate, which is unhealthy and misleading. To select one issue to take on before another simply puts us in the quagmire of inner fighting, and it will never move us to the point of addressing the issues facing us as a society. Those who desire the status quo, desire us to have that debate – the debate on which issue is more important than the other. But, those of us who are concerned with the way our society is falling apart, we see the need to have multiple conversations at the same time – for us, it is both/and.

As a Pastor, as a person who holds all human life as sacred, I am hurt by the taking of any human life. For me, the idea is not if it was justified or not, because to me no one can take the life of another and justify such an action. In that, in the fact that I believe all human life is sacred, I am also grieved when we deny human dignity to people with different sexual identity; when we ignore those living in poverty; those who are growing up with the scars of abuse; the 50% of the population that is held back, paid less and limited in mobility just because they were born female; when we ignore the pains, hurts and injustices caused another human simply because of the color of their skin, or place of birth, is unforgiveable – and when we ignore others, for any reason, we cause human dignity to fall one more notch.

I do not ask myself “What would Jesus do?” because such a question cheapens the ideas set before us. Such a question simply causes us to debate the idea of what Jesus would do, and it removes us from focusing on the issues at hand. Besides, we know that Jesus would stand for human dignity, and that Jesus held human life sacred and above the law.

Before we start the discourse, we need to admit that there is a racial issue in America; we have to admit that our justice system is broken and we are not colored blind; we need to admit that we have preconceived notions concerning sexual identity and gender equality; we have to admit that there is a problem with abuse and misuse of human beings. We have to open our eyes to the reality that some of us do not know what it is like to be marginalized, and once we admit it we need to address those issues that marginalize others. We should remove ourselves from the debate which centers on the idea that “My marginalization is worse than yours” because that puts us into another quagmire where we simply lose sight of the needs of human dignity.

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  1. By A Seat at the Table | Minnowspeaks Weblog on 2013/07/15 at 9:59 am

    […] version and understand it was often played out in the media as fraught with racism.  The response here by John O’Keefe echoes what I hope the country can take away from the situation.  Yet even […]

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