Who knows what is true. Who knows what words were really said, what sights were really seen, what thoughts were really thought. Truth is elusive when humans tell their own story of tragic events. But, let’s imagine one set of alleged facts and then let’s imagine another ending.
Michael Dunn, 47, drives onto the lot of a Jacksonville, Florida convenience store. Jordan Davis, 17, pulls his Dodge Durango into the neighboring parking stall. Jordan and his buddies are playing loud music. You can feel the bass. Michael is not a fan of rap music to begin with. In fact, he thinks this is “thug music”, played by thugs. So, Michael yells (he had to yell to be heard), “Turn down the music!”. At first the music is turned off, but then Jordan, curses and says to turn it way up. Michael yells again. He hears someone call him a “cracker”. The yelling escalates. Michael fears for his safety, thinking he sees Jordan with a gun. Michael has his gun in hand. He knows that in Florida the law allows him to “Stand Your Ground”, meaning that, in Florida, in the right setting, self-defense is pretty much a license to kill someone first and ask questions later.
Michael raises his weapon toward Jordan to defend himself, and it appears that nothing good can happen in the next 10 seconds. Except that Michael knew that while he could shoot to kill Jordan, he could also turn the other cheek. So, recalling some sermon or Bible lesson he heard somewhere, sometime, Michael started praying for Jordan. In that moment he loved his enemy; he prayed for his persecutor. And he put down his gun; rolled up the window, backed up and drove away. Jordan and his buddies laughed, like teenagers do when adults “cave” to their shenanigans, and the beat went on. Little did they know what might have happened. Thankfully.
It takes a lot to imagine that ending, right? Sounds like some syrup-laced religious movie written by some evangelism group. Yeah, I know. I mean, really, no one expects that someone would risk taking a beating, much less dying, when you have the option of standing your ground. I mean, we have rights, right? What kind of person would love a Durango full of teenagers blaring music? Oh, sure we all know God teaches us to turn the other cheek, to let God exact vengeance, but, I mean, that was before Florida said we could stand our ground. If God was writing the Bible today, why certainly it would read, “Stand your ground and then pray for your victim.” Right?