Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God. – Matthew 5:9
A few months ago, after the election, I offered up a sermon in which I talked about how each of our political parties seemed to spend the majority of their time and effort demonizing their opponents. They seemed to make heroes out of their people and villains out of the other guys. The heroes can do no wrong and the villains can do no right. I also talked about how we as individuals often followed their lead and how destructive that path can be. The truth of course is somewhere in between. Neither party is perfectly good or perfectly evil.
As I am writing this message, I am coming off of a weekend of watching constant coverage of the aftermath of the George Zimmerman trial. Saturday night, I watched as the verdict was read and the news media reacted. I was not surprised but I was disappointed that much of the media decided to continue in their demonization of George Zimmerman, portraying him as something he simply is not. At the same time, Trayvon Martin is also being portrayed dishonestly by both sides, either as a small innocent child or as a violent criminal. Just like above, the truth of each is certainly somewhere in between.
It is clear that this tragedy could have been avoided if either person had made different choices on that day. But they didn’t. And it’s clear that many people desperately wanted Zimmerman to go to jail this weekend. But he didn’t and he shouldn’t have because the state didn’t make their case. That doesn’t mean that he is innocent any more than it means that Martin didn’t play a part in the lead up to the shooting. Neither is worthy of demonization or of canonization.
Whether in politics or in the court of public opinion, it seems sometimes that the job of the people involved is to incite hatred of the other side, the “enemy”. However, if we are to truly follow the teachings of Christ, we are called instead to love the other side. We are called to see everyone with God’s eyes – precious and valuable – and to work diligently to be peacemakers. So as we move past this case and into the next issue (because there is always a next issue), please be aware of how you approach it, how you formulate opinions of those involved, and how you express those opinions to others. I’m not saying you have to like everyone and their views. I am saying that God loves them all, so we should too.