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Andrea Pennington, M.D. Headshot

A Tearful Response to Zimmerman's Acquittal

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I recently shared a tearful post on Tumblr about how some of my friends in Europe couldn't understand why the Trayvon Martin death so disturbed me. They couldn't comprehend that with a black American president that even I, a café au lait-colored woman of the media could experience racial profiling in America. And yet I do.

I'm saddened by what I must explain to my own child, who can't even conceive of why or how a person could be rejected based on skin color. I'm reminded of the poignant recital of W.E.B. Dubois made by Melissa Harris-Perry on MSNBC and how I, too, wish my daughter can live in a country where she doesn't feel like she is the problem. I grew up with that, and I don't want to raise her in that vibe.

And so I cried when the Zimmerman acquittal came down because I am reminded that one man's suspicion and hatred ended a child' life -- because of the color of his skin. Though I, too, am pre-judged based on the color of my brown skin, at least I am alive today. But what can I really do about this situation? Do my tears even matter?

So, we are all sad, enraged and full of vengeful emotions. But vengeance will not solve the problems of racism or displaced anger, rage and hostility. We are reminded of the grace of Gandhi who suggests instead, that we should "be the change we want to see in the world."

Can we allow our pain, anger and frustration to motivate and inspire us to carry peace and tolerance forward? Can the enlightenment of ourselves, Zimmerman and others like him who in their ignorance, pain and confusion project hatred toward others? Can we empower ourselves and those who use their position or status, job, and the law to justify their criminal and murderous behavior?

May we awaken to the truth that we are all ONE of similar spirit, each with a soul that, according to some beliefs, chose, decided and accepted this life with a particular mission, cast of characters and lessons to learn and teach? Can this knowledge of our mutual agreement to play these roles for each other lead to compassion?

It is hard to swallow that a young man -- or his parents, for that matter -- would ever choose to be victims of violence. On a karmic level, the experiences in this lifetime are the result of past actions. The fruit of today is the harvest of seeds planted so many yesterdays ago.

We, too, are touched by this strange, poisonous fruit. And we are still here to process our reaction and, most importantly, to choose consciously our response from the standpoint of the loving soul essence that we truly are at our core.

I am reminded by an old friend that the judicial system is manmade. The human mind and ego have the potential for grave error and bias depending on our level of development. The spiritual laws of the universe dictate that no deed goes unnoticed -- not necessarily unpunished in our sense of the concept.

Does Zimmerman or any other misguided abuser need to be punished in the earthly moralistic sense? Or is it possible that he needs to become awakened to the truth of who he really is -- who we all are? In that awakening is the seed which can later bear fruits of tolerance, forgiveness, acceptance and, ultimately, unconditional (self) love.

Knowing that the self that is you is the same self that animates all beings brings a certain reverence for life and inspires us to want the best for all of us.

So my prayer is one of forgiveness and enlightenment because, at the heart of the matter, no one's soul is born full of hatred toward others. The impulse to kill or abuse or reject others is learned or impressed upon us, inherited, if you will, from the collective unconscious. So to heal this pain we do not need protests, riots and eye-for-eye vengeance which will not change the hearts nor souls of the oppressors. We need to return to our true essence of universal love, an awakening to unity consciousness.

So by becoming a tolerant, peaceful, forgiving person and living this example, I am changing the vibration of those around me. Then by practicing the buddhist forgiveness meditation I can go to the heart and soul of all those affected by these actions -- forward and backward in time -- to heal the past and reveal the truth that still remains -- we are ONE. We are pure love at our core. We have come to experience life as creators. Now we can consciously co-create a life of harmony, love and mutual respect for all beings.

For those who wish to learn more about a gentle path toward forgiveness, I highly recommend Jack Kornfield's book, The Art of Forgiveness, Lovingkindness & Peace

May you be filled with loving compassion, light and love.
Andrea Pennington, MD