Finally, George Zimmerman has been charged with the 2nd Degree Murder for the shooting of Trayvon Martin. Everyone can all take a breath and release the stress from our bodies, right?
I hope so.
Of course, social media has reached every point of the globe with the cries of justice for Trayvon Martin. Even here in Germany. And even though the media was initially slow-moving, the legal system was coerced into action. Some would say the coverage has actually been overcoverage. But one thing is for sure: if it weren't for the overcoverage, the death of a 17-year-old black kid would have been just another sad statistic.
But for me, the most amazing thing I've witnessed during this tragedy is the patience, restraint, and class of the family of Trayvon Martin. Tracy Martin will never get to see what kind of man his son would have become. Sybrina Fulton will never get to hold her boy in her arms again. Their son was gunned down like a criminal as he walked through a neighborhood with a can of iced tea, a pack of Skittles, and a cell phone. At the same time, he was treated as the perpetrator of a crime never committed. His alleged killer, on the other hand, was treated as the victim who was only trying to defend himself.
And they had to helplessly witness their dead child's reputation trashed in the media without ever attacking with a profane or harsh word. They've had their every move examined, and each word from their mouths scrutinized. And they had to use everything at their disposal to move the wheels of justice when they wouldn't move on their own.
And yet, they've remained determined to get justice for their son, while carrying themselves with great class and dignity.
They have done what we would want our parents to do if we were Trayvon Martin. And even though so many have tried to support them in every way possible, they need something more from all of us. The need us to show the patience and grace they've shown as we let the justice system work. I know it didn't do what it was supposed to do from the start, so no one is suggesting that everyone goes back to business as usual. Something beautiful happened out of something very ugly. People of different races, cultures, and political affiliations got involved. And we need to stay involved as we allow Trayvon Martin's family to get the justice they deserve.
But let's emulate Tracy and Sybrina. Let's show patience, restraint, and class.
Are we civil enough not to tear each other apart because we don't agree?
Are we a mature enough country to accept what decision comes, whether it fits into our own individual beliefs?
Can we remain clearheaded enough to not let our red hot anger boil over when we don't get the desired outcome?
Twenty years from now, we can look back at the tragic death of Trayvon Martin and remember it as a turning point. Perhaps that memory will still bring tears to our eyes, but we owe it to the family to turn this period of sadness and anger into one of transformation and everlasting change. We also owe it to Trayvon.
Am I dreaming? God, I pray I'm not.
Follow Lawrence D. Elliott on Twitter: www.twitter.com/lawrence_author