Today is Sunday 14 July 2013. I have been crying on and off since late last night when I found out the outcome in the George Zimmerman/Trayvon Martin issue.
While most people were focusing on the race issue and profiling and men being black in America and all the other horrible parts of this great country which need to be fixed by voting, I was upset at how the focus had shifted from cause and effect of our choices in voting to the substantially more serious and saddening issues of literacy, reasoning and the ability for so many to be mis-lead. I am talking about The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).
It has been a couple of weeks now and people are finally starting to see the issue in the light of day. http://www.cnn.com/2013/07/25/justice/zimmerman-juror-b29-interview/index.html?iref=allsearch
No matter how the case against George Zimmerman played out, the issue behind the case was missed by most – except for the lawyers and those who actively read and follow what is really going on in the United States. Lawyers have specialized training to understand the process of law and think differently – which is why we go to them when we have problems. Lawyers think about issues in a specific manner – which is good. Without this ability, we would have less public defenders and fewer people willing to put in the good and necessary fight for everything from civil rights to euthanasia to all manner of other issues. Organizations such as ACLU, The Southern Poverty Law Center, National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, The American Humane Society and many others are staffed with wise and thoughtful lawyers who put their wisdom to practice in a country gone mad with all manner of strange belief systems.
At the end of the day, what happens in this country RESTS on our shoulders. Whether we choose to be involved, vote, have a voice in our democracy or not plays itself out all the time. What played out on 13 July 2013 was a result of our lack of paying attention and getting caught up in the ancillary issues. This lack of attention is what worries me. The ability to be so easily distracted is due to a lack of reasoning skills and literacy.
Lack of literacy does not allow a person to read or pay attention to politics – good, bad or indifferent. Lack of literacy and lack of reasoning (algebra) does not allow some one to think about being manipulated and how to find more information. Lacking literacy and reasoning RUINS LIVES – in fact, in some cases it kills people and ruins the lives of others around them. Lack of knowledge allows us to be racist, xenophobic, and all the other things which hurt our society.
If you think grades in school matter, you are wrong. Grades are an arbitrary sampling of knowing pieces of information. Reasoning and literacy are what matter – and, sadly, not easily testable. Literacy and reasoning are ongoing – as in ‘the rest of our lives’.
The loss of Trayvon Martin is terribly sad. The ruination of George Zimmerman’s life is equally terrible. Even though George is alive, he does not have a life worth living due to the court of public opinion. There was and will be no winner from this situation.
The group which won, and continues to win is ALEC – they put the stand your ground laws in place with the NRA. http://www.prwatch.org/news/2013/06/11384/seven-faces-nraalec-approved-stand-your-ground-law
While people got all crazy about other issues and being distracted by wars, etc. ALEC went about its business with nary a blink of the eye. AND then-kaboom. We had an incident play out in front of us which demonstrated the meaning and intent of ‘stand your ground’ and none of us liked it.
My own friends have come out and chastised me for not ‘understanding’. It hurts. Not only do I understand and I am heartbroken as no one should lose their life walking down a street, I understand what happened and how a community (Sanford) allowed its police force to operate with impunity until this most recent issue. I can also understand how and why George Zimmerman acted – which, I am guessing, is what happened with the jury. Was the decision/outcome optimal? No. In fact, there was no optimal outcome.
You see, our legal system metes out punishment and rewards based on ideas beyond our comprehension. Kenneth Feinberg (The 9/11 Commission) wrote about this in his book ‘Who Gets What’. The world is not fair – in fact, what Mr. Feinberg wrote was, “Some people wish to be heard”.
Being able to better understand our legal system and fix how representation works requires literacy and logic. We will only be able to fix the current state of things when we educate our population. Until we pursue education with all due purpose, we can not begin to understand what needs to be changed and why. We limit our ability to use logic and reasoning and operate on a level which does not necessarily change the system but makes us feel better for a bit.
Change comes about from affecting knowledge.