I, as someone living across the pond from the USA, watched the news this late evening with empathy for the family grieving the death of their son. The news hounds and legal eagles jostled for air time and in the melee a couple of sentences jumped out at me. The next paragraphs gives some context:
Speaking at a press conference, Angela Corey, the Florida State Attorney, said Zimmerman had voluntarily turned himself in, and was now in custody.
Saying that the decision to charge him was not taken lightly, she went on: “Today we filed an information charging George Zimmerman with murder in the second degree. It is the search for justice for Trayvon that has brought us to this moment.”
Miss Corey said she had spoken to Trayvon’s “sweet parents” moments before the press conference began to tell them about the charges.
She added that she had first discussed the case with his mother, Sabrina Fulton, and father, Tracy Martin, who she described as “constitutional victims,” when she took over the case three weeks ago.
"The first thing we did was pray with them. We did not promise them anything," she said.
Forget the patronising 'sweet parents' comment. For a moment. Forget that justice (whatever that means and in various forms) is very difficult to obtain if you happen to be in the wrong 'category'.
By pass the fact that this juncture has arisen purely because people mobilised and highlighted that a young black man was killed on the street.
The Florida State Attorney, no less, who had been allocated the case only 3 weeks ago decided that in her wisdom the first thing she needed to do with the family was.....pray. You could not make it up.
They prayed together and so what a great way to show how you connect with the family, show your determination to obtain truth and detailed analysis of the death of this young man. You stand and do something so utterly based on a collection of 'whoppers' (as we say in the UK) and the family will go away feeling that you are doing the very best job possible.
Well I'm not convinced. Why someone in such a powerful position would feel the need to state, in a 'secular country' that prior to meeting with the family of the deceased they all prayed together.
Is it me or do you see why I am spitting feathers about this? How could this happen? The young man is dead, the system has failed him and his family and only due to immense pressure do the powers that be decide to placate the dissenters/protesters and do what some say they should have done in the first place.
'We did not promise them anything'. Of course you didn't. You couldn't. Nor should you do something so utterly pointless and dumb as to pray with them.
A woman who is a friend decided at the age of about 13 or so to start going to church. She 'gave' herself to Christ and received encouragement and praise from her relatives and peers. Her devotion to 'God' was so intense that she even spent a year in a theology college in Scandinavia, taught young children about the love of god and all things Christian.
Her life moved on with the normal ups and downs that people experience and some poignant tragedies, divorce, premature death, etc. Her faith was almost intact and her 'rebel-mindedness' started her thinking about life, the purpose of life and why and how we are here.
We worked together for a short period and then lost touch. Our lives collided again and we took the same journey living in another continent, trying new things and lifestyles, wanting to get away from being a 'wage-slave'. This woman is the craziest, wackiest, bravest woman I know. We would talk about any and everything without fear of judgement or put downs from each other, oh except once when she unceremoniously told me at high volume to 'fuck off' out of her house!! (We got over that one!! - and the rest!)
My dear friend is now a non-believer. She is going through it as I write and she has given me permission to write about it here, to share it with you. She is crying, distraught, depressed at the number of people she has 'converted' to Christianity over the years. Her part in their indoctrination is causing her immense grief. She has come to the decision that this idea of a god or gods is bogus and should have no place in the rational, reasonable, wonderful and magnificent world that we live in. 'I am stardust' she said. Astonished at the thought. 'I am stardust. We are stardust'. Her words. We are all connected, we are all one and that makes the world more exciting and amazing than any botched, badly written, cobbled-together story in any of the so called 'great religions'. Science has helped us to discover only a minute part of all there is to know. What has religion helped us to know in comparison?
My friend is in pain and I am doing my best to support her on this journey as she has been hit by a mega-truth: we humans have been conned into focusing on the life after the only one we know. We have created rules which have prevented us from being true to ourselves. We have focused on rules like: you must cover your head, mustn't wear trousers as a woman, mustn't eat pork, must not eat red meat on Good Friday, must not wear jewellery, must cross yourself in a particular way after saying prayers or before eating, must wash parts of your body 5 times per day, must not eat prawns, must not eat cows, must face a particular direction whilst praying, must give 10% of your earnings to the religious institution you attend - and the list goes on. I'm sure you can think of at least 10 more.
Humans have hampered their own development.
My friend has begun to free her self from the shackles of faith and to use her own words, ' I am free. I feel like a weight has been lifted off me. Do you know before I would go to church and come home depressed? Now I know I have responsibility for myself and it makes complete sense that we are born and then we die and that is it. I feel at peace and am annoyed that it has taken me so long to reach this point.'
My response: 'But at least you got there. So many people won't.'