Friday, June 28, 2013

Rachel Jeantel–Reflections Upon America

A lot of people have taken to social media to poke fun at Rachel Jeantel, the star witness for the prosecution in the Travon Martin / George Zimmerman case.

People have poked fun at how she speaks, how she interacts with others and the fact that at the age of 19, she is unable to read cursive handwriting.

It is easy for some to poke fun at people who struggle or who seem to be beneath their own social status, communication abilities, education levels and the like.

Many of these same people watch the news not to be informed but rather to congratulate themselves as they subconsciously think “Man, I’m glad I’m not that person”.

But those same people need to realize that many times the success we manifest is as much accidental as it is purposeful.

In Malcolm Gladwell’s book Outliers: The Story of Success, he shatters the myth of the self-made man and describes the factors outside of one’s control, including where and when someone was born, that determine one’s success potential.

Unfortunately, those same factors can also determine one’s struggle potential.

And while it is easy to say that anyone can lift themselves from any situation if they only desire it, it is often easier to say this than to do it.  It is also easier to say it if we have no context for another person’s unique situation and their unique combination of life experiences, life baggage, environment influences, genetics, etc.

If success were that easy, do we honestly think most people would choose struggle over success?

I doubt it.

I know that if I were the prosecution in the Martin / Zimmerman trial, I’d be tearing my hair out as I listen to Ms. Jeantel’s testimony.

But as a human being, I’d also be filled with guilt and sadness that our society, not her society versus our society, created a human being who is now being bashed and humiliated merely because she had no control over where and when she was born.

It’s intriguing and disturbing to realize that despite our gifts, talents, opportunities and the like, our success potential still started out with a little luck.

And it brings to mind the oft quoted “there but for the grace of God go I”.

I think this is pretty humbling.

What do you think?

In service and servanthood,


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