Stand your ground.

I was never going to say anything about Trayvon Martin.  Mostly because I felt that I had nothing to add to the polarizing, uncomfortable discourse.

And, well, it didn’t really impact me.  Not really.  I mean, as a Canadian, who lives nowhere near Florida, I thought, ‘That couldn’t happen here.  Not where I am from’.  And so while I was disgusted with the ‘verdict’, and with the cultural / political environment that lead to Trayvon’s murder*, I didn’t rise to the streets or make any discernible change in my own life.

Just: “The world is awful sometimes”.

But then this happened.  A same-sex couple in my country – my province, maliciously targeted with the same kind misguided ignorance that I dismissed as impossible in my community.

Here is the thing about hate: It is easy to believe that with our current media’s portrayal of the world (however right or wrong), that people are just broken.  That there is an innate part of the human psyche that not only is dark, but that is fundamentally evil.  And there are lots of days that it is easy to believe that whether it is a threatening letter to a neighbour, or a shooting in a movie theatre, or a murder on a sidewalk, it is easy to chalk it up to being a fluke in the human experiment.  A misfiring.  A terrible person did a horrific thing.  Now change the channel to something fun before I have to see more of it.

And certainly there is some truth to that.  But it is becoming more and more clear to me that this is superficial, somewhat lazy understanding of the world.   And the truth here is too important to continue ignoring.

The reality is that while these awful people exist, they exist among us.  These are people who are brought up in our schools and churches.  They use public transit, pick through the same apples at the grocery store.  These people are not only our neighbours, often they are our friends.  And while the majority of them would never have murdered Trayvon Martin in Zimmerman’s shoes, the poison that we so readily denounce in the ‘evil’ people exists within us.  In the music on our ipods, or the jokes that we don’t call out as wrong.  It infects us on a level that skims the surface of consciousness, to the point where we don’t even recognize it within ourselves:

The chairman totally gypped us.  That’s so gay.  Now we need someone else someone to man the desk.

These things are weeds.  Nobody intentionally sets out to plant it, but where ever it is allowed to root, it will grow.   And when it grows and somebody gets hurt, we are shocked.  People on the news get riled up.  Psychologists, parents, politicians.  Everybody, scrambling to decipher ‘where this weed came from’, and ‘how can see soon it sooner next time’.  The truth is that it came from us.  Or rather, it looked us in the face as it passed us by, grinning all the way.

It is important to fight, and fight again, and keep fighting, for only then can evil be kept at bay, though never quite eradicated.

-Albus Dumbledore

So stand your ground, because if you don’t, it will surely be taken out from under you.

* This was murder.  The Zimmerman trial was simply about whether or not this particular murder was justifiable under the law.

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About Andrew Brensick
Canadian university undergraduate looking to make every year, every day, every second count.

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