Neighborhood watch

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
I have no objection to the “not guilty” verdict for Trayvon Martin’s killer. He likely did not break Florida’s “stand your ground” laws that enshrine violence. Justice would not have been achieved by feeding him into the Florida prison system. He is not a bad person; he is a symptom of our culture’s violence, fear and racism.           
The story is a reverse image of Jesus’ story of the merciful Samaritan: a man with a gun who goes traveling toward a particular destination: looking for “suspicious” persons, seeking and finding one of “them,” and visiting violence on him. How did he think that story was going to end?

When we blame others, when we seek scapegoats, when we project our fear or anger onto others, when we get into an argument, it is good to stop and ask, “What is the destination of my journey? How do I think this story will end?”

Our community does not need to be protected. It needs to be healed. The only path to justice is not a verdict at all, but the practice of learning to see people as people rather than as threats or as one of “them.” We go about in a different kind of Neighborhood Watch program: we see people as neighbors, and keep an eye on our own neighbor-hood, our behavior as a neighbor. We look for opportunities to bless people and to heal communities, looking for ways to breach the boundaries we have placed between “us” and “them.” We look for places where the “neighborhood” is threatened by exclusion, prejudice and dehumanization. When we see “one of them,” we ask, “How can I help restore this person to community?”

The path to justice is befriending the stranger, loving the enemy, living nonviolently. There is no other way.

Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

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