Over the past few weeks and months a lot has been said about George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin. If you’ve followed the news at all, you have an opinion. You know what you think happened.
Maybe what happened happened the way you think it did. Maybe you’re 100 percent incorrect. It’s not my job to change your mind.
But since I have your attention, I want to ask a question: When did we decide justice should be synonymous with getting the outcome we want?
What happened between Zimmerman and Martin was a case with no right, only wrong.
If you celebrated the verdict, why? Zimmerman killed a teenager. He admitted it. There is no doubt. The jury merely decided it was justified. Should the death of anyone, regardless of circumstance, make you happy?
If the verdict outraged you, why is your anger selective? Evidence was withheld from the defense team and the person who reported it was fired from his job. Would it have been just to convict someone who never had the opportunity to present a complete defense?
Right and wrong don’t exist on a balanced scale. Doing right doesn’t wipe away a wrong. Every wrong stands on its own and every right should be recognized and glorified, otherwise it goes unnoticed.
This isn’t just true in our courts; it’s true in everyday life. If you’re mean, rude or insulting to someone, a moment of kindness doesn’t erase your cruelty. You’re just a cruel person who did the right thing for a change.
The opposite is also true. If you accuse someone of doing wrong and you’re also guilty, that doesn’t make the other person innocent.
That’s what some people who follow Major League Baseball are trying to argue. In 2011, Ryan Braun of the Milwaukee Brewers failed a drug test for performance-enhancing drugs. His suspension was overturned last year because he proved that Dino Laurenzi Jr., the man who collected the urine for the test, did so improperly.
Recently, Braun admitted that he used performance-enhancing drugs. The league suspended him for the rest of this season. As a result, many people have asked whether Braun should apologize to Laurenzi. Why should he? Did Braun’s recent admission make Laurenzi’s errors suddenly acceptable?
Why can’t we accept both as the flawed people they are?
That brings me back to my question. When did we decide justice should be synonymous with getting the outcome we want?
Justice is only possible if we as a society invest its pursuit with our blind trust and faith and accept the judgments that are made. If every decision is disputed because we disagree with the outcome, we have no justice at all.
Trayvon Martin is dead. George Zimmerman is a killer. Ryan Braun used performance-enhancing drugs. Dino Laurenzi mishandled a drug test. Each of these statements is 100 percent true. But they don’t tell a whole story or an accurate one.
In truth, we never hear a whole story. That’s why topics with shades of gray receive so much attention. When there is no clear right and no clear wrong, we challenge ourselves to form the most informed opinion possible.
However, forming opinion isn’t inventing truth. It’s still just an opinion. You can say Zimmerman used too much force or that Martin shouldn’t have been looking at random homes. You can say Braun shouldn’t have assaulted Laurenzi’s character knowing what he knew about his own guilt.
What you can’t do is allow your opinion, no matter how well thought out, to become the only interpretation you’re willing to accept.
If you do that, you’ve closed your mind. You’re not interested in truth or justice. You’re only interested in getting your own way.
And then, you’ve become a person that you’ve decided is worthy of your hate.