My heart hurts.
In the aftermath of the George Zimmerman trial and verdict, my heart hurts.
My heart hurts for Trayvon Martin and for his family; I cannot imagine their pain and grief.
My heart hurts for those who mourn the verdict, and for all those who feel that the criminal justice system has failed them.
My heart hurts for our family members, our friends and all families of color who feel an even greater sense of fear as their sons go about their lives and who, because of this verdict, find themselves explaining to them — yet again — that they must never give anyone even an iota of a reason to harass or hurt them and how careful they must be if they ever find themselves in a similar kind of confrontation.
My heart hurts, too, for George Zimmerman, and for his family. Zimmerman may have been acquitted, but he is not a free man. Whatever his motivations, whatever thoughts may have been running through his mind as he jumped from his car to confront Trayvon Martin, he now lives with that young man’s blood on his hands and in fear for his own safety.
My heart hurts for those who have taken to social media to rejoice in the verdict, as well as for those who spout venomous threats against Zimmerman.
My heart hurts for those who harbor anger, hatred and bitterness, on either side.
My heart hurts for our country — and for the seemingly widening gulf that divides us.
My heart hurts.
Call it a “God thing” that many Christians all over our country whose denominations follow common Scripture readings were hearing the “good Samaritan” text from Luke’s Gospel in their churches on Sunday morning, just hours after the verdict was handed down.
Call it a “God thing” that millions of Christians were hearing again an all-too-familiar story from Jesus in which a man who is traveling on the road from Jerusalem to Jericho is attacked by robbers, beaten and left for dead, and rescued by a foreigner — a member of a hated race.
Call it a “God thing” that many Christians were being reminded on Sunday of the commandment that we are to love our neighbors as ourselves.
That’s often as tough a message for us to hear today as it was for people in the 1st century. It’s too easy to fear those who aren’t like us, to avoid those who call us from our comfort zones, to seek revenge against those who wrong us, to hate those who hated us first.
When I was a little girl, we had a wooden ruler in our house which bore the words, “Always follow The Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
I remember asking my mother one day what that meant, and she told me, as she would often repeat over the years, “Never do anything to someone else that you wouldn’t want that person to do to you.”
There’s no arguing with that sage advice.
But as I’ve matured, I‘ve found that I like rephrasing that advice in the affirmative: Always do for others what we would have them do for us. Love the unlovable. Remember the forgotten. Care for the sick. Feed the hungry. Clothe the naked. House the homeless. Welcome the outcast.
And we should do all those things even if those for whom we care hate us. Even if they would want to have nothing to do with us. Even if they would call us demeaning names or make derogatory gestures. Even — perhaps, especially — if we believe that they can do nothing for us in return.
Yes, my heart hurts. But I still have hope. Because of all the people who love unselfishly, I have hope. Because of all of the people who tirelessly minister to others in myriad ways, I have hope.
I have hope that the gulf between races and cultures can be narrowed. I have hope that the Zimmerman verdict can engender respectful dialogue between people who might otherwise have never come to the table together.
And I have hope that one day soon, we will all “stand our ground” by standing together in firm commitment to work for unity, justice and peace.