Updated: Caracotsios: Finding hope in wake of Zimmerman verdict

Updated: Caracotsios: Finding hope in wake of Zimmerman verdict

Julian Caracotsios, Summer Columnist

A laundry list of injustices is only a few clicks away. Anyone can read about — and in some cases, even see with their own eyes— war, oppression, rape and countless other violations of human dignity on their laptop while eating breakfast. Among us college students, it’s almost a daily ritual, and heaping criticism on American society is more of a national pastime than baseball. So when the verdict of George Zimmerman’s trial was passed, I was not surprised by the firestorm that followed. Controversial situations like these are really the worst our society has to offer.

Just 50 years ago, flagrant racial violence was an everyday occurrence. Elsewhere in the world, this still happens on a regular basis.

As students, we’ve been told many times that being able to see how lucky we are helps deal with the stress and responsibilities of our often hectic lives and really puts things in perspective. We’re lucky to be privileged enough to have our biggest concerns be midterms, resumes and the stupid things we said after one too many drinks. Of course, psychologically, it’s an upward battle to sift through the downs and realize how high up we really are, but we nonetheless agree that this is a goal worth striving for.

To me, then, it seems that we should take the same view of our society. As Americans, we’re lucky to have the privilege that the worst we see happen is the death of Trayvon Martin. As with our personal lives, seeing past social injustices and realizing how good we’ve got it puts things in perspective and makes us appreciate what we have. It does not, however, mean we can brush things under the rug. We still have a long way to go, as evidenced by the deeper societal problems revealed through the trial.

Unfortunately, for many of us, cynicism and criticism are hip. To be enlightened is to be disgusted by the flaws and injustices that we still perpetuate. But if we can take a lesson from our personal lives, perhaps it doesn’t have to be that way. We know that a positive attitude is necessary to overcome our own struggles, so although Trayvon Martin’s death shows us that we still have a long way to go, let’s not forget how far we have come. Reflecting on the progress that has already been made should make us hopeful that we can create a brighter future, and give us the motivation to actually bring it about.

Update, 8 p.m. Thursday:

Due to some feedback I’ve received about this column, I think that there are a few points I should clarify that I may not have communicated well:

I do not think that violence should be downplayed by any means, nor do I believe that racism is extinct in our country or that we should cease to be sensitive to such issues. I was deeply bothered by Trayvon Martin’s death, but I was also bothered by the fact that I saw some of my peers using this particular tragedy to condemn wider society in a way I felt was unjustified. Our society has a great many problems (and one of the largest is racism), but it has also made a great deal of progress and I believe that we should be thankful for what we have achieved. My intention was not to brush this under the rug or make a mockery of it, and if it at all sounded that way, then I’d like to apologize for being careless and insensitive in my writing.

Julian Caracotsios is a rising Weinberg senior. He can be reached at [email protected]. If you would like to respond publicly to this column, leave a comment or send a letter to the editor to [email protected].