Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN


July 30, 2013

Lion and the Lamb: A national tragedy

CROSSVILLE — The drama that has taken place in Sanford, Florida, has all the marks of a great American tragedy. Beginning with the shooting of Trayvon Martin on February 26, 2012, and coming to a climax but not an ending with the acquittal of George Zimmerman by a jury of six women (five white and one Puerto Rican) on July 13, 2013, the drama has brought to light a number of key issues before our nation today.

One issue is what kind of community life we will seek to have in our country. It was not accidental that the shooting took place in a gated community—one that has tried to protect itself from those who are “other.” Had the community ever provided George Zimmerman, a volunteer community watchman, any guidance or instruction on how to represent his community creatively on such occasions? There is no evidence of this.

Seeing Trayvon walking through the village on a rainy evening, Zimmerman quickly profiled this youth during a 911 call, describing him as being “up to no good.” He then began following him and finally caught up to him—an encounter that ended in Trayvon’s death. Unfortunately we have only Zimmerman’s version of the encounter, not Trayvon’s.

Susan McFarlin of Gallatin, in a letter to The Tennessean on July 18, asked a thought-provoking question, “Wouldn’t it be nice to live in a world where a ‘good’ man stops to ask a 17-year-old boy, walking home in the rain, if he could give him a lift?” What if George Zimmerman, as a neighborhood watchman, had shown a basic attitude of hospitality and empathy for the young Trayvon walking through the neighborhood? There is a good chance that Trayvon would still be alive today.

But Zimmerman, in his encounter with Trayvon, had a gun and a “Stand Your Ground” law of self-defense to back him up. When police arrived after the shooting, Zimmerman told them that he had to shoot Trayvon in self-defense. As a result, he was not arrested immediately but only after a gap of 44 days. During the resulting trial his attorneys sought to portray Trayvon as the aggressor and Zimmerman as the victim, displaying a piece of sidewalk cement as Trayvon’s weapon of choice and a photo of a shirtless Trayvon to suggest a picture of a thug. 

Although the attorneys did not base their case on Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law, the judge brought this law into jury consideration by instructing the jury members as follows: “George Zimmerman...had no duty to retreat and had the right to stand his ground and meet force with force, including deadly force, if he reasonably believed that it was necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself.” She said nothing, however, about affording Trayvon, who probably had a similar fear of death or of great bodily harm at the hands of Zimmerman, the benefit of this law—even if he was not old enough to carry a gun.

At least twenty-two states, including Tennessee, now have “Stand Your Ground” laws. The National Rifle Association, arguing that such laws are making America safer, is trying to get these laws adopted in additional states. Another outcome, however, is emerging. Using homicide data from 2006 to 2008, two researchers at Georgia State University have found that “Stand Your Ground” laws that provide protection for deadly force in public places have resulted in a “significant increase in the number of homicides among whites, especially white males.” 

But getting back to our gated communities, and our gated nation, how will we deal creatively with our young poor minorities who are so often excluded, disposable, the other? Too often they are perceived as a threat to be contained or eliminated rather than as an object of compassion and social investment.

An ancient rabbi once asked his pupils how they could tell when the night had ended and the day was on its way back. “Could it be,” one student asked, “when you can see an animal in the distance and tell whether it is a sheep or a dog?” “No,” answered the rabbi. “Could it be,” asked another, “when you can look at a tree in the distance and tell whether it is a fig tree or a peach tree?” “No,” said the rabbi. “Well, then, what is it?” his pupils demanded. “It is when you look on the face of any man or woman, and see that he or she is your brother or sister. Because if you cannot do this, then, no matter what time it is, it is still night.”

• • •

This column is sponsored by Cumberland Countians for Peace and Justice and dedicated by the local writers to the theme that the lion and the lamb can and must learn to live together and grow in their relationship toward one another to ensure a better world. Opinions expressed in “Lion and the Lamb” columns are not necessarily those of the Crossville Chronicle publisher, editor or staff. For more information, contact Ted Braun, editor, at 277-5135.


Text Only
  • We the People: The last dance

    Charlie Hayden’s last recording session with his early partner, Keith Jarrett, was in 2007.  The songs they played were mostly melancholy.  The second album coming from that session includes Weil’s “My Ship” and Porter’s “Every Time We Say Goodbye.” The dark ballad “Goodbye,” by Gordon Jenkins, was the final track.

    July 22, 2014

  • Lion and the Lamb: Living in a pressure cooker

    The Gaza Strip, a small Palestinian territory about the size of Washington, D.C., has been in the news almost every day.  Its key location at the eastern end of the Mediterranean Sea has attracted a number of occupying powers over the years, and it has  been at the center of much Middle East history.

    July 22, 2014

  • Tidbits: The excitement of election day

    On March 12, 1996, there were 427,183 votes cast in the presidential primary election. Among those votes was mine, the first vote I cast in an election, just two days after my 18th birthday.

    July 21, 2014

  • Raising the minimum wage

    My first job from which FICA was withheld was a minimum wage job, seventy-five cents an hour. And yes, even then no one could live on that little money. However, I was a high schooler living at home where my father provided room and board. The job gave me pocket money to buy gasoline, to take my girlfriend out for movies and burgers, and to buy tickets for baseball games.

    July 21, 2014

  • Lion and the Lamb: Children on the move

    The news this past week has focused on the humanitarian crisis developing on our southern border. Thousands of unaccompanied children from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras seeking to escape from the violence, human trafficking and extreme poverty in their countries have been entering the United States.

    July 15, 2014

  • We the People: Memo to gun rights groups

    The recent incident in California helps us understand why we cannot rely on mental health services alone to solve the problem of gun violence.

    July 15, 2014

  • Tidbits: Make the best of your road trip

    I didn’t care for road trips when I was young. It was so confining to have to sit in the back seat, staring out the window for hour after hour, hayfield after hayfield. And when you’re a kid, time doesn’t pass like it does when you get a little older. Just the trip from Jamestown, TN, to Crossville, roughly 30 miles, felt like an eternity!

    July 14, 2014

  • Stumptalk: Biased climate agenda will cost trillions

    For anyone who has been educated in the history of science and scientific method, this whole issue of “Global Warming” or “Climate Change” is an embarrassing and painful exercise.

    July 14, 2014

  • Lion and the Lamb: Time for an oil change

    The land of Iraq, earlier known as Mesopotamia, has a long history going back to Neanderthal times some 60,000 years ago. Later, around 10,000 years ago, it became the site for some of the most important developments in human history: the invention of the wheel, planting of cereal crops, the development of cursive script, mathematics, astronomy and agriculture. Today it is recognized as one of the cradles of civilization.

    July 8, 2014

  • We the People: American women, be informed and vote

    Voting for today’s Republican Party and its Tea Party members, means you are voting against more than most realize.  This is especially true for women.

    July 8, 2014

Marketplace Marquee
Must Read
Section Teases
Seasonal Content
AP Video
Ariz. Inmate Dies 2 Hours After Execution Began Crash Kills Teen Pilot Seeking World Record LeBron James Sends Apology Treat to Neighbors Raw: Funeral for Man Who Died in NYPD Custody Migrants Back in Honduras After US Deports Israeli American Reservist Torn Over Return Raw: ISS Cargo Ship Launches in Kazakhstan Six Indicted in StubHub Hacking Scheme Former NTSB Official: FAA Ban 'prudent' EPA Gets Hip With Kardashian Tweet Bodies of MH17 Victims Arrive in the Netherlands Biden Decries Voting Restrictions in NAACP Talk Broncos Owner Steps Down Due to Alzheimer's US, UN Push Shuttle Diplomacy in Mideast Trump: DC Hotel Will Be Among World's Best Plane Crashes in Taiwan, Dozens Feared Dead Republicans Hold a Hearing on IRS Lost Emails Raw: Mourners Gather As MH17 Bodies Transported Robot Parking Valet Creates Stress-free Travel Raw: Fight Breaks Out in Ukraine Parliament
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Weather Radar
2014 Readers' Choice
Graduation 2014