The Tragic Death of Trayvon Martin: The Reflections of C.S. Lewis
I wish that Trayvon Martin was not dead. His young life ended far too soon. Who knows what he could have been or done in his life? I feel deep distress for his parents. Losing a child is probably the hardest thing a person can undergo. I will pray for Trayvon and his parents. We all should.
For most of the last month the public focus has not been on Trayvon or his parents but upon Trayvon’s status as a proposed martyr. The President of the United States weighed in on Trayvon’s case in terms both measured and cool emphasizing that he had to be careful as chief magistrate of the country and further calling for a comprehensive investigation. That is he set the right tone right up until the point that he ratified a link between Trayvon’s race and his death by describing him as a young man who would have looked a lot like an Obama son, in other words a young black man. Wow, 90 seconds of good sense followed by a few seconds of spewing gasoline in a room full of matchbooks.
Then there is Rep. Frederica Wilson who takes to the floor of the House of Representatives every day with her poster which bears a four year old photo of Trayvon while she calls for justice against his “murderer” who is still “at large.” Prejudgment? Incitement? Political hay?
Next, we have the New Black Panther Party whose spokesman calls for the collection of reward cash for the capture of George Zimmerman, the admitted shooter. Is the implication that he be captured and “brought to justice” dead or alive? Is this a reasonable course of action in a situation in which charges are not even pending against Zimmerman? I am aware of no evidence that he is in hiding from authorities. Is this a crime, calling for the kidnapping or murder of another, or is this just free speech exercised in a very confrontational way?
And then there is the Reverend Louis Farrakahn. He tweeted as follows:
“Where there is no justice; there will be no peace. Soon and very soon, the law of retaliation may very well be applied.”
Is Rev. Farrakahn race-baiting? Since that term suggests a verbal attack upon members of a racial group, it appears not. Rather it appears to me that this tweet is a form of permission given by Farrakahn to the black citizens of our country to feel personally aggrieved by Trayvon’s death, based solely upon the the idea that Trayvon was just walking while black. That is Trayvon’s death is allegedly due to being racially profiled. A blogger whose blog is dedicated to defending Farrakahn had to say about whether he was race-baiting:
His words are clear . . . , these types of acts of violence against blacks, against youths; can result in the increased spirit of immediate retribution in the family of victims, because waiting on a justice will prove to be a double dose pain and heartache. Where not only have you lost a family member but even the justice system that is supposed to aid the victim, actually victimize the victims even more through loop holes, prejudices, and racism as well.
But is this blogger’s version any better? Where is the call for calm and cool reason? Why no call to await the results of the investigation? Who will lose out if there is a full and dispassionate investigation leading to a reasoned and just result?
We ought to view this volatile situation through the lens of the writings of famous Christian writer C.S. Lewis. Lewis has a good deal to say about what’s going on in the aftermath of Trayvon Martin’s death.
Even a good emotion, pity, if not controlled by charity and justice leads through anger to cruelty. Most atrocities are stimulated by accounts of the enemy’s atrocities and pity for the oppressed classes, when separated from the moral law as a whole, leads by a very natural process to the unremitting brutalities of a reign of terror.
Is Lewis right that anger leads to cruelty? Are people inciting new atrocities to “make up for” the Trayvon atrocity? Where is provision made for the moral law as a whole? Don’t we all know that anger, as stimulated by atrocities, leads to the loss of moral reflection and control by the aggrieved and their enraged defenders? Why would anyone want to stir up anger before all the facts are in? Again, the words of C.S. Lewis:
Suppose one reads a story of filthy atrocities in the paper. Then suppose that something turns up suggesting that the story might not be quite true, or not quite so bad as it was made out. Is one’s first feeling, `Thank God, even they aren’t quite so bad as that,’ or is it a feeling of disappointment, and even a determination to cling to the first story for the sheer pleasure of thinking your enemies as bad as possible? If it is the second then it is, I am afraid, the first step in a process which, if followed to the end, will make us into devils. You see, one is beginning to wish that black was a little blacker. If we give that wish its head, later on we shall wish to see grey as black, and then to see white itself as black. Finally, we shall insist on seeing everything – God and our friends and ourselves included – as bad, and not be able to stop doing it: we shall be fixed for ever in a universe of pure hatred.
What happens when we give in to the hatred and anger sought to be stoked by those seeking retribution for the presumed “racial profiling” death of Trayvon at the hands of George Zimmerman? Don’t we, as Lewis suggests, lose sight of our “enemies” as people with all of the rights of people. Anger will trigger in our minds a deadly revenge process for previous atrocities. And, as C.S. Lewis observed, these feelings will linger long after the Zimmerman case is resolved one way or the other. They will linger even if the evidence shows that Zimmerman is a man innocent of racially motivated murder even if guilty of atrocious judgment. That is why, I’m afraid, we are being subjected to a constant barrage of anger inciting images and rhetoric. As someone previously said, no crisis can be allowed to pass without being used. Here there is no denying that the crisis is being manufactured for the purpose of inflaming passions. That is not Christian and I doubt it is properly Muslim either.
A little addition on the question of why. Communist Revolutionary Che Guevara once said: “To send men to the firing squad, judicial proof is unnecessary. These procedures are an archaic bourgeois detail. This is a revolution! And a revolutionary must become a cold killing machine motivated by pure hate.” [Emphasis added]. Is this attempt to make Trayvon a martyr a step towards fomenting some sort of revolution or is it just about political business as usual using it as fuel to keep people in an inflamed state so that they and their votes can be more easily manipulated?Explore posts in the same categories: Politics, Religion
Tags: Anger, Atrocities, C.S. Lewis, Farrakahn, George Zimmerman, Immediate Retribution, Justice System, New Black Panther Party, President Obama, Race, Race Baiting, Racial Profiling, Rep. Frederica Wilson, Trayvon LewisBoth comments and pings are currently closed.