As the world watched, T.J. Oshie from small town Warroad, Minnesota, in a “sudden death” shootout led the U.S. ice hockey team to a victory over the Russian team Saturday in a preliminary round at the Olympics. The shootout was necessary to break the 2-2 tie. The verdict was finally in after an amazing game. The cheering was loud all over the United States.
Also on Saturday, the verdict came in on another shootout, the case of Michael Dunn, shooting at a carfull of African American teenagers playing loud music in a gas station lot in Jacksonville, Florida. Because the verdict was announced during Saturday night prime time coverage of the Olympics I, like many people, almost missed it. The judge thanked the jury for their hard work. They had tried, but even after hours of overtime could not reach a verdict on whether or not Dunn was guilty of first degree murder of 17-year-old African American Jordon Davis. Sudden death. Justice delayed.
The jury, however, did convict Dunn on 4 charges, three of attempted 2nd degree murder of the three other teens in the car. One could cheer, or at least be relieved. Or be simply saddened.
A different kind of shootout: one a game, with a puck, and referees. A shootout on the ice, both sides having their turn to win. In the cases of Trayvon Martin and Jordon Davis, they had no guns. They were attacked by another who carried a gun because . . . well, why? In case he would need it if he was grieved, annoyed, thought he was afraid? In case someone was making too much noise? In case he thought someone was in the wrong neighborhood, should not be there, should not be?
We understand the motives for competitive sports. Are we beginning to take for granted the motives for murder? Fear begets fear and guns beget guns. We want to cheer for the United State of America. We cheer more loudly when we win games. We will cheer more clearly when we no longer fear African American males, particularly young ones, believing that fear and anger gives license to take a gun and shoot, and then to continue to shoot. Life is precious, given by a Creator God. Christ died and rose that we might not take death into our own hands but live in reconciled relationships. The Spirit empowers us to work for justice in the midst of systemic sin.
Obviously, although the words are similar, there is no direct comparison between these two stories. So we compartmentalize. Watching the Olympics becomes a communal activity. So, too, when there is yet not justice for Jordon Davis, we are all called to address the underlying issues.
Ron Davis, Jordon’s father, said he had waited 450 days for this moment. "The whole world is looking at all of us here in Jacksonville.” I hope so.