Home > Blog: Currents & Futures > Currents & Futures 04: I was George Zimmerman

Currents and Futures

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The murder of Trayvon Martin is a tragedy.  I oppose and deplore any and all violence, regardless the perpetrator, regardless of the victim.  The killing is yet another painful, senseless tragedy in a society where “violence” is a multi-billion dollar growth industry, a society that raises violence to an art form.  Nothing here will minimize the gravity of this tragedy.

Comment #1: The Media Circus

The sensation around the Trayvon killing is largely a MEDIA-CREATED EVENT.  It has no “reality” outside of the media’s ability (and willingness) to stir up the lingering racial passions that are still an integral part of America’s Shadow, in their never-ending quest to sell advertising space.

There is no racially motivated killing spree going on… but, with the media circus inflaming racial fears, it SEEMS like we’re heading for the “bad old days” again.  We’re not… it just FEELS that way.

Here’s the reality:  Up until the 1960’s, a white person could injure or kill a black person with relative impunity.  NOW, THEY CAN’T.  Even if Trayvon’s killer walks the street right now (due to a legal loophole), rest assured that civil suits, Justice Department investigations and other measures will result in this guy’s life being permanently derailed.  Pulling that trigger will become the defining act of his downward spiraling life.  He will spend the rest of his life trying to pay off the family’s lawsuits.  He may do time in a Federal prison for violation of civil rights.

Comment #2: The Real Issue

Why did Mr. Zimmerman do what he did?  What was his motivation to act?  It is all too easy to take the surface, presenting issue:  “guilty” white guy with gun,  “innocent” black youth with candy… and see this as a racially motivated killing.

It’s NOT.  Zimmerman would have fired on a young white male.  (No doubt Trayvon’s “otherness” made firing easier.) Regardless of race, Zimmerman would have fired, because…

George Zimmerman was trying to feel like a “man”.

Zimmerman’s motivation was NO DIFFERENT from a teenage black or Latino gang-banger with a pistol in his belt.  He’s no different from the white kid (or any race) who takes a loaded gun to school.  THE MOTIVATION IS EXACTLY THE SAME.  Zimmerman’s motivation was no different from MINE, when I owned and carried guns.

Yes, I used to be a George Zimmerman.  My weapons of choice included a revolver, a .45 automatic and a semi-automatic rifle, complete with two banana clips.  Yes, I felt “powerful”.  Yes, I felt “responsible”.  Yes, I felt like I was defending myself, my family and my community.

And then… I woke up.

In Breaker Society, when women feel bad about themselves, many will go shopping for shoes and blouses.  What do men do?  Well, many of us go shopping for horsepower or firepower.

Feeling inferior and depressed is an integral part of Breaker Society – it is how things get sold… from shoes to bullets to anti-depressants.  If we felt good about ourselves… our economy (in its present form) would not survive!

The consequences of buying yet another pair of high heels is small – the injury is to feet and bank accounts.  The consequences of buying a gun is devastating… for the society, the victims and the soul of the shooter.  Because: if you own it, you’re going to want to carry it.  And, if you’re carrying it, it becomes likely that you’ll use it.

Right now, as you are reading this, there are literally thousands of men (and a few women) out on the streets, carrying concealed weapons.  Some legally, most not.  They are all looking for the same thing… and they’re not finding it.

What does “manhood” mean in the 21st Century?  We need a new working definition – one that does not involve buying “stuff” in order to feel good.  We need to go “deep” — understanding our psycho-spiritual relationship to ourselves, to each other and to the Divine.  Our lack of spiritual depth is the REASON we are depressed…

We must become whole, authentic human beings – and encourage all others to do so.  We must learn to listen to our hearts – not Madison Avenue.  We must decide to simply STOP being manipulated, depressed and inferior.

We must learn to wake up.




PS: Let’s engage in a live dialog on this subject!  (The first “Currents & Futures” live discussion went very well!)  If you are interested in a FREE (donations accepted) phone gathering, on Wednesday, 11 April at 7pm Pacific time, using the Maestro Conference interface, please register by clicking here: Currents & Futures Live Discussion.  It is free, but registration is necessary to receive call-in instructions.


9 Comments, RSS

  • John Brown

    says on:
    April 5, 2012 at 8:20 pm

    Sharif, thanks for the clear thoughts and some of the history out of which they have grown. I continue to hope that, at some point, our nation will have a similar wakeup moment about where its values lie, and we learn to direct it’s attention in service to life. Reading your words leaves me with a more settled heart for some reason. Less agitated about this event and the thousands like it. Inspired to continue my waking up process.

  • Jesus

    says on:
    April 5, 2012 at 11:32 pm

    Thanks Sharif, for bringing to surface the underlying cause of this tragedy. I come from a country where guns are banned. Nor even the police carries them since there is no need for that. It is understood that our individual rights -to own a gun- are not as important as the right of all of us as a community to be safe. If some one needs to feel like a “man” a fight may occur, but no one gets shot.

    • Sharif

      says on:
      April 6, 2012 at 10:16 am

      Which country are you from?

      In the US, where violence is equated with manhood, the gun becomes our surrogate penis. And, realizing this, is it any wonder that the National Rifle Association goes berserk at the very mention of limiting access to guns? For them, that’s the same as emasculation.

      Look at how fundamental our society transforms, when we let go of our depressing, toxic images of our Breaker identities.



  • Bill Treasurer

    says on:
    April 6, 2012 at 6:09 am

    Loved this post Sharif. Flame fanning is easy. Thinking deeper, like you do, means standing outside the firestorm. Thanks for the post. It has me thinking about what it means to be a man, especially today.

  • Susie

    says on:
    April 6, 2012 at 11:13 am

    While I don’t disagree with your general premise, I do think you have missed one of the important aspects of the Trayvon Martin case and that is the institutional racism that minorities and the poor face every day in this country. You say, “Even if Trayvon’s killer walks the street right now (due to a legal loophole), rest assured that civil suits, Justice Department investigations and other measures will result in this guy’s life being permanently derailed.” The fact is that the Sanford police department did not do its job in this case because of racism. The public outcry that resulted from an online petition that got covered by the The Young Turks and then was subsequently picked up by other media outlets resulted in the other authorities taking over where the Sanford police department abdicated its responsibilities. Yes, it turned into a media circus, but the media, and social media in particular (this got huge on Twitter), were essential in raising the outcry against the injustice of a black youth being murdered by a vigilante and the vigilante being protected by the cops.

    I have a black friend, who was wearing a brand new Armani suit, who was taken to the ground and had a knee put in his back by a police officer for doing nothing but driving while black. The same person was taken to jail for the crime of taking a nap in his car before work, probably because he was black and had an African cap visible in the back of his car. He’s been pulled over leaving his workplace as the manager of a very fine, well respected restaurant late at night and taken to jail. He’s never been charged with a crime. He’s always well dressed and well groomed. He speaks like the scholar that he is. There is no public outcry for these incidents and he is one of just many, many people who endure the daily insults of discrimination in this country. I have a black woman friend who says she feels this discrimination all the time, although she has not been on the receiving end of police mistreatment. We agreed that one of the blessings of the Trayvon Martin incident was that it has put a spotlight on the institutional racism that still persists in this country. I am proud of America for standing up against the injustice that was perpetrated in the Trayvon Martin case.

    I am not addressing your very valid points addressed in this blog post. I am just pointing out that there was more going on with the media circus than you point out.


  • Ted Polozov

    says on:
    April 7, 2012 at 12:00 am

    I absolutely agree that carrying a weapon precludes possibilities of looking for alternative solutions in the heat of the moment. It is not necessarily a predisposition to violence in and of itself, but as violence is a great equalizer (not meant in a good way: but if someone puts a gun to your head, what is the instant level of significance you place upon them at that moment?), the temptation to resort to that singular force can be dangerous.

    In future posts, I look forward to reading more about the exact attitude, approach, and methodology of cultivating the spiritual depth you speak of, as well as practical suggestions and exercises for learning to awaken (as the obvious degradation of society cannot continue to be our focus).

    • Sharif

      says on:
      April 7, 2012 at 12:31 pm

      Thanks for the contribution. I agree with all you said.

      And… My focus on “manhood” includes but goes beyond the “heat of the moment”. It is a CONSCIOUSNESS issue — what causes the Zimmermans (and former Sharifs) of the world to strap on a gun in the first place? There really and truly is a FEELING involved — and its a very DEEP feeling. It lies at the core of male identity.

      For me, the question is NOT whether or not men have an inherent bias toward bashing each others’ brains out… I think we do! I think it is inherent in “maleness”… take a look at what young male rams do to each other. The question is whether we are intelligent enough to recognize the energy and substitute activities that are less lethal and more consensual (football, rugby, fencing, even dance) with those activities associated with American “manhood” that are anti-social and non-consensual (gun violence, wife beating, etc).

      Indigenous “Keeper” societies always have rituals that channel the energy of young men into socially acceptable avenues. Around the world, I have participated in rituals whereby society members recognize their place in the community and their relationship with the Transcendent.

      It would be nice if, one day, the US decided to become “civilized” in this way.



  • Denese Vlosky

    says on:
    April 8, 2012 at 11:06 am

    Thanks for taking this beyond race. I too think this is a media-created event, with the right and the left literally making stuff up to prove their own personal agendas.

    I stopped reading the news or facebook posts in it. I am glad I tuned in for your take.

    As far as I can tell, many choices were made that culminated in this tragedy.



  • Linda Littleton

    says on:
    April 11, 2012 at 7:04 am

    Upon my return from the island, where I spent 6 months with no media from the U.S., no TV, and limited choices in stores for things such as toothpaste, it was a culture shock returning to our society. I lived simply, taught Yoga, walked sometimes miles just to find provisions from one shanty store to another. When I went to a RiteAid in Portland, I was so overwhelmed by the choices of toothpaste that it made me feel uncomfortable being in the store.. that’s when I had a revelation ” How much stuff do we need, to feel of any Value?”… so many choices can be a form of sufferage!

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