It comes down to attitude

What will shooting teach us about how we treat one another?

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No one knows how the George Zimmerman case will end. But we have a pretty good idea of where it started.

On the wrong foot.

Whatever happened between these two tragically tied-together souls, it’s obvious where the volunteer neighborhood watchman Zimmerman was coming from: that the hooded 17-year-old Trayvon Martin was up to no good in the gated suburb and needed to be dealt with.

It also appears Zimmerman was ill-equipped to be the one to “deal” with it. Prosecutors claim they will prove he profiled Martin. At the very least, the impression we’ve gotten is that Zimmerman was overzealous, perhaps dangerously so. Such confrontations can be explosive even for the most seasoned law officers. It takes a ton of training and experience for professional, certified, full-time police officers to handle such situations – and Zimmerman is clearly none of those things.

Zimmerman also ignored warnings from a law enforcement dispatcher not to follow or confront Martin.

But even in ignoring that stop sign, Zimmerman most likely could’ve avoided striking this match in America’s fireworks warehouse. It comes down to one word.

Attitude.

No matter what Zimmerman thought or suspected, he could have approached Trayvon Martin with a more professional, even positive attitude. He even could’ve expressed concern or an inclination to help the youngster if he was lost. A forced smile might have completely defused things.

Fact is, we would argue Zimmerman had an obligation to approach the young man that way – particularly since he wasn’t supposed to approach him at all. As the adult – as an armed adult – and as a volunteer representing the entire community, Zimmerman owned 100 percent of the responsibility for ensuring that his encounter with Martin started off well and proceeded calmly and fairly.

One supposes it’s possible he did these things – but, from the results, that’s extremely doubtful. The more logical conclusion is that he failed in his awesome responsibility – utterly, foolishly, recklessly, dreadfully. If there were video of this fateful rendezvous, it should be played for any student curious to learn how not to deal with other human beings.

Likewise, how the youth responded to Zimmerman was his choice alone. Even a bombastic, bellicose questioner can be met with respect, however unwarranted. It’s a badge of unusual maturity, no doubt. But if we’re not teaching our young this, we need to: What happens to you isn’t always up to you; how you respond to it always is.

Again, no one knows how the criminal case will end. The charge against Zimmerman this week was a relief to those who sincerely believe in his guilt – but they must guard against getting their hopes up too high for conviction: Not only is second-degree murder a tall hurdle for prosecutors to overcome with proof beyond a reasonable doubt, but even the lesser charge of voluntary manslaughter may be highly difficult to prove. The claim of self-defense is a formidable one, and rightfully so; we all must be granted that basic protection.

Still, however the legal case comes out, an even greater question is what we will learn from it all.

If we learn how better to interact with each other; how to honor each other; and how much power we all have, under any and all circumstances, to control how we respond to those around us, then this tragedy will not have been in vain.

Trayvon Martin’s mother
graciously suggested this past week that the confrontation was an accident. She’s being far too kind. Whatever happened between those two individuals, it sprang from calamitous errors in both judgment and, most importantly, attitude.

What happens to us is sometimes an accident.

How we deal with it never is.

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12barblues
238
Points
12barblues 04/15/12 - 12:35 am
6
0
Quit the speculation. Its

Quit the speculation. Its sick that people are taking sides before the trial. Put him on trial. Let all the facts come out. Let a jury of his peers decide his fate.

Truth Matters
7825
Points
Truth Matters 04/15/12 - 01:06 am
3
0
Indeed, truth matters.

Indeed, truth matters.

Truth Matters
7825
Points
Truth Matters 04/15/12 - 01:18 am
4
0
cont'd... I can only imagine

cont'd...
I can only imagine if Martin were a female, none of us would expect a female to entertain a stranger questioning her at night, or in day light. And then again, there have been numerous abductions and murders of males in this country making it risky for them to entertain strangers, also. Even if Mr. Zimmerman identified himself, he was still a stranger to Martin.

Craig Spinks
817
Points
Craig Spinks 04/15/12 - 01:18 am
1
1
Aretha Franklin put it well,

Aretha Franklin put it well, "R-E-S-P-E-C-T."

Everyone would do well to actuate her word.

Techfan
6461
Points
Techfan 04/15/12 - 04:58 am
4
5
"Excuse me Mister Stalker

"Excuse me Mister Stalker Sir. How may I assist you in your endeavors this fine evening?

Retired Army
17512
Points
Retired Army 04/15/12 - 05:18 am
5
4
It's one thing when you strap

It's one thing when you strap on a gun for self protection and it's an entirley different thing when you strap one on to go hunting.

Yes ACES on this one we do agree. Attitude does matter.

Double M
0
Points
Double M 04/15/12 - 05:53 am
5
3
I fail to understand the view

I fail to understand the view that Trayvon Martin was at fault for not responding with enough "respect". He was walking home from the store when he was followed by a strange man in a car. The man watched and pursued him, eventually approaching him in a threatening manner. Most people would likely respond to this type of situation with fear, and rightly so. Zimmerman was not a policeman, and as far as Trayvon Martin was concerned, he was a creepy guy following him in a car, with a gun. If your child were in this situation, how would you want them to respond? I have always told my child to run away, or scream for help if pursued or confronted by a stranger and possible abductor.
The only person who is responsible for this situation is George Zimmerman, and it is amazing that you want to blame Trayvon Martin for not being "respectful" enough!

copperhead
1035
Points
copperhead 04/15/12 - 06:22 am
5
6
NONE of you KNOW what

NONE of you KNOW what happened that night between zimmerman and martin YET you say zimmerman is a stalker,a racial profiler,and a murderer. Not one fact but that is the liberal way. Why can't you wait for SOME facts to come to light? Ah,the liberal way again!

copperhead
1035
Points
copperhead 04/15/12 - 06:34 am
3
7
martin was a drug addict high

martin was a drug addict high on "skittles"and attacked zimmerman for asking him what he was up to. martin was looking for a car or house to burglarize to feed his drug habit. he(martin)hated hispanics and looked for a way to vent his hatred. he(martin) was a racist,a burglar,and a drug addict/dealer that was up to no good.

Bruno
780
Points
Bruno 04/15/12 - 07:06 am
8
4
We know a couple of things

We know a couple of things for certain in this case. Zimmerman was the aggressor. Zimmerman shot and killed an unarmed 17 year old who had a right to be in the area. The cops did a horrific job of properly dealing with this in the first place.
This entire issue rests firmly at Zimmerman's overzealous feet.

copperhead
1035
Points
copperhead 04/15/12 - 07:11 am
3
4
bruno,how do you KNOW

bruno,how do you KNOW zimmerman was the aggressor? were you an eye witness? how do KNOW that martin was not the aggressor?

copperhead
1035
Points
copperhead 04/15/12 - 07:18 am
3
3
bruno,how do you KNOW that

bruno,how do you KNOW that zimmerman did not stop following martin when the dispatcher told him to and martin then attacked him for "dissing"him? tell us where you get your FACTS,PLEASE.

copperhead
1035
Points
copperhead 04/15/12 - 07:31 am
3
4
come on bruno,you stated that

come on bruno,you stated that we KNOW zimmerman was the agressor. where did you get this FACT?

Bruno
780
Points
Bruno 04/15/12 - 07:35 am
6
3
If Zimmerman had stopped when

If Zimmerman had stopped when the dispatcher had told him the 911 tape would have reflected that. On the tape you can clearly hear that Zimmerman did not stop following Martin. That is fact. If Zimmerman had stopped when the 911 dispatcher advised him to and allowed the cops to do there job then there would have been no face to face with Martin and Zimmerman would not have killed him.

Stalk: verb (used without object)
1. to pursue or approach prey, quarry, etc.

aggressor: ag·gres·sor   [uh-gres-er]
noun
a person, group, or nation that attacks first or initiates hostilities; an assailant or invader.

In stalking Martin, Zimmerman initiated hostilities and thus is rightly defined as the aggressor. Being the aggressor does not always mean being the first to throw a punch. If I continually harass (to disturb persistently; torment, as with troubles or cares; bother continually; pester; persecute.) you to the point that you eventually confront me about it, you are still the aggressor.

It is sad that I have to provide definitions of commonly used words to clarify my points. It is also sad that people are attempting to make the victim (Martin) out to be some sort of bad seed that got what he deserved when he was simply a kid going home with a coke and some skittles.

copperhead
1035
Points
copperhead 04/15/12 - 07:49 am
2
5
bruno,how do you get all that

bruno,how do you get all that from a few seconds of tape?how do get stalking from following a suspected burglar? he WAS looking into cars and houses.

onlysane1left
222
Points
onlysane1left 04/15/12 - 07:53 am
4
0
The only true fact of this

The only true fact of this matter is, the Sanford police department failed to look at this case with any type of open mind. They rushed to judge that this 17 year old was just another black kid looking for trouble and dismissed his life just as quickly. Nothing better than anyone here who reads this forum. My only comment is "He without sin cast the first stone." Zimmerman is just caught in between bad judgement on his part and bad judgement on the part of the Sanford PD. Blaming Zimmerman for this whole mess is like blaming Steve Bartman for the Cubs losing the NCLS back in 2003. He is just a victim of bad decision that had very little effect of a baseball playoff game where the Chicago Cubs went on to lose a playoff series. Zimmerman is victim also, he was overzealous and should have stopped following Martin after the dispatcher told him not to follow. He now faces wrath because the Sanford PD did use their better judgement in finding out why Zimmerman continued to follow and then kill the 17 year old.

copperhead
1035
Points
copperhead 04/15/12 - 07:57 am
2
5
what about the bad judgement

what about the bad judgement by martin for wandering around a strange neighborhood at night in the rain sheilding his identity looking in cars and kouses?

copperhead
1035
Points
copperhead 04/15/12 - 07:59 am
2
3
typo-kouses should be houses

typo-kouses should be houses

copperhead
1035
Points
copperhead 04/15/12 - 08:09 am
2
4
oh,i'm sure that martin had

oh,i'm sure that martin had all good intentions because he "looked like hussein's son"(if hussein had a son)THAT was the clincher for hussein worshippers!

Riverman1
90290
Points
Riverman1 04/15/12 - 08:23 am
4
3
There will be a mistrial due

There will be a mistrial due to a hung jury. Months later there will be another mistrial. This time the judge will let Martin out of jail awaiting a third trial...which will also end in a mistrial and Zimmerman finally goes home. The incident is too polarized not to end in mistrials.

I do think one fact is obvious. Martin initiated the physical part of the confrontation.

palmetto1008
9782
Points
palmetto1008 04/15/12 - 08:33 am
4
3
Yes, Riverman, that's what
Unpublished

Yes, Riverman, that's what Zimmerman says, though I'm not so sure how you can claim it's "obvious." Who is facing charges of second degree murder? It's amazing the lengths that people will go to defend that kid killer.

Riverman1
90290
Points
Riverman1 04/15/12 - 08:35 am
1
3
Palmetto, do you agree there

Palmetto, do you agree there was a physical confrontation? Do you think Z would go up and start a fist fight with him? But I do agree with the editorial that attitudes being more respectful on both sides could have prevented the shooting. By the way, at age 17, you go to big boy prison in GA.

dichotomy
36145
Points
dichotomy 04/15/12 - 08:38 am
4
1
"We know a couple of things

"We know a couple of things for certain in this case."

No, we do not know much at all. That is why there should be a thorough investigation and possibly a trial.

We do know that up until the shooting Zimmerman had not done anything illegal. Following and watching a stranger wandering around your neighborhood is not illegal. There are conflicting statements about how and when the confrontation began and what happened during that confrontation. Although Zimmerman has a history of making 911 calls, he does not have a history of ever pulling his weapon before. We also know that Trayvon Martin has a history and that he is not the innocent, perfect little child he has been made out to be in the media. He was a strapping 17 year old with several recent discplinary problems who possibly did assault Zimmerman. It is also possible that Zimmerman started the confrontation. We do not know for sure and I hope there is enough evidence to absolutely prove this thing one way or another. I am certainly tired of seeing other people, who have no idea of what really happened, arguing with each other like they really knew the facts. They don't. You don't. I don't. I am not sure the District Attorney does either. Unless Zimmerman pleads to a lesser charge, we will have to wait for the jury's decision and I'm not sure that they will even know to an absolute certainty what happened that night. But we will have to respect their decision.......WON'T WE????.........or should I drop by the hardware store and get the lynch rope now?

palmetto1008
9782
Points
palmetto1008 04/15/12 - 08:45 am
5
2
Riverman, the only thing that
Unpublished

Riverman, the only thing that is "obvious" to me is that Mr. Zimmerman killed the kid. Also, apparently, there is enough evidence to charge him with criminal intent. Whether or not he is found criminally culpable via adjudication is yet to be seen.
YOU are the one who said it was "obvious" that Martin instigated an altercation. Conveniently, the only other witness who might dispute Zimmerman's claim is dead. So, no, it's not obvious to me.

Little Lamb
47899
Points
Little Lamb 04/15/12 - 08:47 am
2
4
Bruno posted, “Zimmerman was

Bruno posted, “Zimmerman was the aggressor.”

And then later posted the definition:

aggressor: a person, group, or nation that attacks first or initiates hostilities; an assailant or invader.

I don't think what Zimmerman did rose to the level of this definition. Martin's confronting Zimmerman with the question, “You got a problem with me?”, and then decking Zimmerman after Zimmerman said, “No.” — now that's aggression.

palmetto1008
9782
Points
palmetto1008 04/15/12 - 08:56 am
6
2
Dichotomy, you bring up
Unpublished

Dichotomy, you bring up Martin's "history," but you fail to mention that Zimmerman has a history as well, a violent criminal record.

Bruno
780
Points
Bruno 04/15/12 - 08:57 am
4
2
LL, while aggressor and

LL, while aggressor and aggression have the same root word they are not the same. Given that Zimmerman initiated hostilities by continually stalking Martin the term "aggressor" fits.

There is no evidence that Martin was "shielding his identity looking in cars and kouses". It is common to pull up the hood on your jacket when it rains. There is nothing sinister in that. Given that his father lives in that neighborhood, it was not "a strange neighborhood". Even if it was a "strange neighborhood" Martin was well within his rights to be walking back from the store. So far there has been ZERO evidence that Martin was doing anything but walking back to his father's house after buying a soda and skittles.
There is ample evidence that Zimmerman stalked, confronted and killed Martin.

BTW, LL, if I am walking alone at night and a person is stalking/following me, you can bet I am going to ask them what their problem is. The "stand your ground" law protects Martin's actions NOT Zimmerman's.

Riverman1
90290
Points
Riverman1 04/15/12 - 09:14 am
2
3
Palmetto, it's perfectly

Palmetto, it's perfectly obvious to me a man with a gun doesn't start a fist fight with another person, but you see it differently and that's fine. We'll have to see how it plays out in court, although I'll bet my bottom dollar on a series of mistrials.

faithson
5410
Points
faithson 04/15/12 - 09:49 am
4
2
No matter the outcome of the

No matter the outcome of the criminal trial, the civil trial against the homeowners association for allowing this whole event to occur is going to cost a bunch. If any good can come of this, allowing a pedestrian to conceal/carry a firearm as a representative of the 'locals' will be out the door. I am sure a lot of homeowner associations are going over their rules right now. One has to wonder how things might have been different had the firearm been out in the open when the incident occurred.

Bruno
780
Points
Bruno 04/15/12 - 09:59 am
2
0
I think both Riverman and

I think both Riverman and faithson are correct in their last posts. Most HOA's and neighborhood watch organizations I know of strongly discourage carrying firearms while "on duty" for just this reason. Most neighborhood watches understand the most important word is "watch".

From a standard Neighborhood Watch Organization FAQ:

Make sure your citizen patrol (2,3,4,5 are important):

1. Undergoes training by law enforcement and have their support;
2. Works in teams;
3. Wears identifying clothing -t-shirts, caps, vests, .jackets-or reflective clothing or patches;
4. Never carries weapons of any kind — e.g. guns, black jack, mace, baseball bat, or knives;
5. Never challenges anyone;
6. Always carries a pad and pencil, and a flashlight if it is dark;
7. Is courteous and helpful to residents of the area being patrolled: and
8. Keeps logs and files reports with the local law enforcement agency.

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