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What should we make of the Zimmerman Verdict?

How we react to the Zimmerman Verdict defines our National Character

It is a tragedy that Trayvon Martin’s life was taken by George Zimmerman. It is a tragedy that his family will not see him grow out of his teens into his life as an adult. They won’t see him get married, have children, and lead a productive life. The death of Trayvon Martin is an opportunity for all of us to reflect on the situation and learn from it.

The reality of the situation is we have a jury system and it worked, whether you agree with the decision or not. We cannot say the jury did not take the matter seriously, weigh all the evidence, debate the issues, and come to a decision.

We must remember those six jurors did not ask to serve on the jury or to be sequestered for three weeks. They did their duty to the best of their ability. Perhaps we need to revisit the issue of whether a sequestered jury is appropriate. Did the split jurors in the Zimmerman case at the beginning of deliberations, with one juror choosing second degree murder and two a manslaughter conviction, give in to those wanting acquittal because of their desire to go back to their lives and be with their family? No doubt this played into the OJ verdict that came back from the jury less than four hours following a nine month case.

We have a system that must reach the goal of finality once the verdict comes in. Chaos will rule the day if people unhappy with a verdict, any verdict, decide to demand additional investigation and punishment once the jury has spoken. We have to learn as a nation that we can’t always have it our way and then, when we don’t, blame the system – the very system that is the bedrock of our Constitution and what we stand for as a nation.

Our character is revealed in the way we handle struggles in our lives, confrontation, and tragedies. Do we take the ethical high road and first seek to understand then to be understood, as posited by Stephen Covey in his classic book 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. The analogy with the Zimmerman case is quite appropriate, even desirable, that is, to have a national debate on issues related to race and the jury system.

From discussion comes wisdom and knowledge as observed by the ancient Greek philosophers so many years ago. They also said “You are what you do.” How we react as a nation to the Zimmerman verdict defines our national character.

I worry all too many are not seeing the forest from the trees. We understand the details of the trial but not the overall picture. The details are the facts of the Zimmerman case and the verdict. The forest is a young man died needlessly in an incident seemingly provoked by allowing a neighborhood watch group representative to carry a deadly weapon. How does this make sense in a violence infested society like ours? I thought we were trying to get all the guns off the streets.

Finally, George Zimmerman should be allowed to go on with his life and not live in fear of being attacked or killed because someone does not like the jury verdict. That is not what we are all about as a nation. That attitude has no place in our hearts.

Blog post by Steven Mintz, aka Ethics Sage, on July 18, 2013