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Living on the edge

 

The Aerosmith song “Livin’ on the Edge” starts with the line “There’s something wrong with the world today; I don’t know what it is. Something’s wrong with our eyes.” It’s embarrassing for me to admit this, but anytime I hear or read something disturbing in the news, that line plays in my mind. It’s practically been on loop for the past few weeks.

There’s still something wrong with the world today, and, much like Steven Tyler, I’m not quite sure what it is. 

+Take the Trayvon Martin case, for example. It’s tragic. Immense sadness overtakes me the more I learn about it. 

In case you haven’t heard about it, Trayvon Martin was a 17-year-old boy who was shot and killed in Florida on Feb. 26 by a neighborhood watch volunteer named George Zimmerman. Zimmerman claims he killed Martin in self-defense, despite the fact that Martin was completely unarmed unless you consider a hoodie, iced tea and a bag of Skittles weapons. Zimmerman even ignored the direction of the 911 dispatcher who told him to stop following Martin. Martin was also black, which has turned this into not only a tragedy, but a race issue, as well.  

And the issue of race is hard to ignore in this case, though many would like to. Many of us would like to think Americans have reached a stage of maturity where skin color does not determine the quality or the threat level of an individual, but a young, black male was shot down in the street for no reason. 

Racism has infiltrated us again. And while this obviously doesn’t make everyone in America racist, it does bring the issue back to the forefront of our minds.

Some people actually have the audacity to blame the victim: “Well, he shouldn’t have been walking at night.” But I’m pretty sure that the argument “Well, people shouldn’t shoot someone armed only with candy” is a pretty valid one, as well. 

Why is it that the only way we can comfort ourselves about a tragedy like this is to make it the victim’s fault. 

A girl gets raped and we comfort ourselves by saying, “Well, she was dressed like a slut.” A teenager is killed and we say, “He shouldn’t have been walking at night with a hoodie on.” Please tell me that you know those two arguments are ridiculous and cruel. People don’t asked to get murdered any more than they ask to get raped.   

I’ve also heard a lot of people complaining about the way the media has latched on to this case — a somewhat valid concern. It’s true that Trayvon’s death is not the only disturbing occurrence in the world today. Hunger, poor education, poverty, violence and hatred are everywhere. But that doesn’t mean that this case doesn’t merit the attention it has received. 

I would suggest that other injustices in the world are simply under-investigated. People avoid caring. In the same way that we engage in victim-blaming, we console ourselves with thoughts like “that doesn’t happen in America.” We avoid putting faces to issues because it makes us uncomfortable. Can you honestly say that your stomach doesn’t turn a little when you see pictures of Trayvon Martin, pictures of a young boy full of life?

The killing of Trayvon is tragic, and it deserves its coverage. I simply propose that the revulsion we all feel about a young boy being killed needlessly, we should also feel about young children being forced into sex trafficking, families going hungry, the homeless living on the streets, etc. We should see their pictures too.

Is Trayvon’s death the worst thing that’s ever happened? Probably not, but that doesn’t change the fact that it’s horrible and needs to be addressed. A 17-year-old boy is dead, and he did nothing to deserve it. We should all mourn his death and come to terms with the realization that racism still creeps in the hearts and minds of some.  

I did not pull the trigger. I’ve never forced someone into sex trafficking. I have not directly denied food to the hungry. I’ve never denied a good education to a poor child. But I don’t know how much I’ve actually done to counteract those who have done these things. 

We’re all teetering on the “edge,” and unless we can put our indifference and hate aside, then we’ll fall, just like the song says.  

I’m not sure what causes this anger and disinterest in the world today. But continuing to ignore and to blame is not the remedy. We’re only aggravating the situation. 

Abraham Heschel said quite often that “few are guilty, but all are responsible.” It’s time we let those words resonate, dig our heels in and stand up to all injustices. Then, maybe, we can take a step back from the edge of despair and depravity we’ve been living on.

 

Megan Massey is a junior religious studies major from Mount Olive. Follow her on Twitter @megan_massey.