The Student News Site of Malvern Preparatory School

Friar's Lantern

The Student News Site of Malvern Preparatory School

Friar's Lantern

The Student News Site of Malvern Preparatory School

Friar's Lantern

Lessons learned from a stolen life

Ignorance left a life cut too short in Florida. Our challenge is to learn empathy from a tough lesson.

Trayvon Martin 2.0. That’s what many pundits called the Michael Dunn Murder Trial. Once again, Florida’s Stand Your Ground laws came into the limelight. Another black teenager was killed because some people love their guns way too much, but that shouldn’t be the only lesson learned from the case.

Here are the facts of the case if you weren’t following it. Jordan Davis – age 17 – was at a gas station in Jacksonville, FL with his friends playing music in his car. Michael Dunn, coming back from a wedding, was irritated with the volume and style of the music. Dunn confronted Davis and Davis refused to lower the volume of the music. At this point, Dunn thought he saw a gun and shot at Davis’s vehicle. After the shooting, Dunn left the scene, went to a hotel with his girlfriend, and ordered room service. Yes, he didn’t even call the police. Jordan Davis died, and his three other friends survive.

Before I talk more at length on the topic, let’s just agree that this entire situation could have been avoided if Dunn would have just stayed in his car. He didn’t have to start any confrontation. Also, if he was annoyed by the music, he could have just as easily gone to another gas station.

I’m going to take a different angle on this case. Instead of taking the obvious route and harping on Florida’s gun laws, the obvious crux of this case is the fact that Michael Dunn could not appreciate the culture of someone else. In this country, we are so quick to judge and condemn, yet we seldom take the opportunity to love and understand.

Now this isn’t the column solely focusing on music. This is the column focusing on a holistic sense of acceptance. A lot of the student body has their likes and dislikes towards a certain person or thing without knowing the background or story behind it. It’s as if we are wired to hate – and yes, I mean hate. We hide around different phrases like, “that’s what the Church says” or “Fox News said that”. These thoughts create a subclass of people, which I’m sure Jesus wouldn’t have condoned.

Though our religious or political beliefs might say one thing, our hearts may direct us another way, if we listen. We might hear on the news waves that a group of people are relying upon government services. Some people, and even us, call them “moochers.” The jokes we make about people in this situation are saddening. It’s as if we have completely forgotten that they are people. It’s as if we complete forget that Jesus loved and accepted the crowds that depended on him to provide loaves and fishes..

How does this all fit back to the Michael Dunn Murder Trial? It fits because maybe, just maybe, if Michael Dunn had an appreciation of the different cultures than his own, then Jordan Davis would still be here. If he had been able to take a deep breath and put himself in the shoes of exuberant teenagers on a night out, the confrontation might not have happened at all. How many times do we blast music in our cars after a championship win or joyous occasion?  Let us try to have an understanding of people and not just dismiss them as different. We all have a heart and a brain. Our circumstances shouldn’t define our personality, it should be our humanity.

Coming full circle, it is important to understand where the Michael Dunn case sits right now. Dunn was convicted of three charges of attempted murder for Davis’ friends that were shot at in the car and also for firing into a vehicle. It is sad that the Justice System continues to fail young, black men, but we must continue to have faith that it will right its wrongs. Hopefully those days come in May, when Dunn will be retried for the first-degree murder of Jordan Davis.

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