Soul Food -- finding peace after the Zimmerman verdict

Editor's note: Fox News anchor and correspondent Kelly Wright has been reporting on major news events for 30 years. This is the first installment of "Soul Food," a new column that will appear in Fox News Opinion every Wednesday.  In addition to his news experience Kelly is also an ordained minister and Gospel recording artist. In his ministry he inspires people through his passionate preaching of the Good News in a bad news world. Expect Wright to candidly discuss the role of faith in an increasingly cynical world every week in this space.

It is widely believed that we are a nation divided over partisan politics. However, in the aftermath of the George Zimmerman trial, we find that we are a nation still dealing with deep divisions over race.

Anger, fear, sadness and frustration represent a wide range of emotions spilling over from the trial.

While many legal experts were not surprised by the not guilty verdict, a large number of people were hoping that Zimmerman would be found guilty. They wanted him to be held accountable for fatally shooting 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.


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    So, in the days since the verdict, angry people have been have been taking their message to the streets, chanting; “No Justice!No peace!”

    The public outcry is loud, clear and mostly peaceful.

    What remains unclear is the murky area of race. Some people fear that the life of an unarmed black teenager is cheap, that Trayvon Martin can be killed in a so-called act of self defense.

    Yet, when I see so many people taking to the streets to express their outrage over the Zimmerman case, I am moved to ask; where is the outrage over the killing fields of Chicago? Where hundreds of black kids are being killed in a vicious cycle of violence? But I digress.

    It is a painful time for the Martin family. Yet, in their sorrow, they continue to urge the nation to call on God to heal our land. For both families and the nation it is a time for finding ways to heal from the deep wound this tragedy has opened.

    We have an opportunity to find reconciliation instead of retaliation, We have a moment to examine ourselves and ask if we will accept people for the content of their character, or malign and profile each other over the color of our skin or the clothing we wear.

    Pastors and members of the faith community have been urging people to remain calm. Reverend Bernice King, the daughter of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. responded to the verdict with a tweet that echoed her father’s famous “I have a dream” where he said; “We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline.”

    Even President Obama and members of Congress are calling for calm. The president rightly points out; “Trayvon Martin’s death was a tragedy. Not just for his family, or for any one community, but for America.” Mr. Obama says we should ask ourselves how we can prevent such tragedies like this.

    During his speech at the NAACP Convention on Tuesday in Orlando, Florida, Attorney General Eric Holder candidly shared how he has talked with his children about how to deal with racism.

    As the father of two sons, I have held similar discussions with them. My wife and I have also had the task of preparing them for small-minded people who would treat them unfairly because of  their color. At the same time, I have encouraged them to develop friends with people of all nationalities, ethnicity and faiths.

    So, how can we prevent this from happening again?  The Bible advises;  “Don’t hit back; discover beauty in everyone. If you’ve got it in you, get along with everybody. Don’t insist on getting even; that’s not for you to do. “I’ll do the judging,” says God. “I’ll take care of it.”

    Our Scriptures tell us that if you see your enemy hungry, go buy that person lunch, or if he’s thirsty, get him a drink. Your generosity will surprise him with goodness. "Don’t let evil get the best of you; get the best of evil by doing good.” -- Romans 12:17-21

    Just imagine if on that fateful night in Sanford, if George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin had acted on this principle? If Zimmerman had reached out to offer Martin a ride home to get out of the rain, instead of perceiving Martin as a threat or menace to society? What if? Sadly, we’ll never know.

    This kind of calamity is like a Greek tragedy; there are no winners. Everybody involved in this case loses. Broken hearts and shattered lives will have to be mended.  And when the uproar ends, we will still need to reach a place of healing.

    We cannot reach that destination through pointing accusing fingers and malicious talk.

    Healing comes through forgiveness and reconciliation, which requires the hard work of putting our ego, pride and prejudice in check.

    In times of turmoil and despair, Dr. King focused on using the weapons of goodness and mercy; “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” -- "Strength To Love" (1963)

    In that spirit, I offer this prayer to free your mind from despair and feed your soul with hope; “Lord, make me an instrument of your peace, where there is hatred, let me sow love. Where there is injury, pardon. Where there is doubt, faith. Where there is despair, hope. Where there is darkness, light. Where there is sadness, joy."

    Through this we can learn to know justice and know peace. Walls of pride and prejudice will cease when we are God’s instruments of peace.