I wish that Trayvon Martin could have grown up. I wish that he could have had a chance to become a man. I wish that he could have been able to find a great mentor, like a youth worker or a community organizer, and that he could have had the chance to grow up and make a difference in the world. I wish that he could have gone to college, and gotten an education that would improve his chances of survival in this cruel, harsh world. I wish that Trayvon could have had the chance to become a mentor himself, and help other young men become the people God intended them to be. I wish he had been able to have the chance to become a successful entrepreneur, who built up a community-based, socially responsible business that benefited not only his wallet, but the entire community.
But I know that’s not possible. I don’t even know if he would or would not have taken the opportunities I just described, but it would have been good if Trayvon had at least had the opportunity, the chance, to reach his full potential. But it’s not possible.
I also wish that George Zimmerman had not been walking down that particular street that day. I wish that the neighborhood he lived in wasn’t so disorganized and distrustful of one another that he felt it necessary to become a neighborhood watch member. I wish that he had met someone who encouraged him not to buy a gun, but to invest his time, talent, and money in serving in a local youth center. I wish that George had been a mentor to Trayvon, instead of his killer. I wish that these two children of God could have met on the basketball court in a church, and played some two-on-two with another adult and teenager, instead of meeting on the street in the middle of an altercation. I wish that we lived in a nation where race and class and stereotypes didn’t determine our feelings about one another, and where the media and the politicians didn’t grasp at every opportunity to tear us apart for ratings or political gain. I wish that every Trayvon Martin were loved and cared for by his community, and that every George Zimmerman were encouraged (and rewarded) for putting down their weapons and taking up the cause of peace–real peace–in neighborhoods and communities all across this country.
I wish that children wouldn’t be shot in the places that should be the safest for them.
I wish that people would speak openly about their fears of the “other,” instead of looking over their shoulders before perpetuating a falsehood about “those people.”
I wish that the churches, synagogues, mosques, humanist clubs, atheist organizations, political parties, non-profits, and corporations of this country would unite under the banners of Peace, Love, Harmony, and Understanding.
But wishing isn’t enough, is it?
Wishing that this were all so doesn’t accomplish it.
No, I’ve got to do something about it. And so does everyone else. Each of us, in our own ways, must work for peace, every day, in our hearts, our homes, our streets, our nation, and the world.
Wishing won’t get it done.
So, what are you going to do about it?
I plan to start speaking up, and talking about peace, and acting for peace. Not just when I’m around my friends who are also peaceniks and pacifists, either. I need to start talking about peace with everyone I meet, and I dare not let an opportunity pass me by to live it out in my life.
The hymn may sound corny, but it’s as true today as when a group of campers first stood around in a circle and sang those words, “Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with ME.”