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.

Comments (32) Add comment
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Retired Army
17512
Points
Retired Army 04/15/12 - 03:13 pm
1
1
And here's the real irony. If

And here's the real irony. If there is a lawsuit against the HOA in this case, Trayvon Martin's father by definition could be one of the defendants.

Riverman1
84110
Points
Riverman1 04/15/12 - 03:17 pm
0
1
I wouldn't think a HOA has

I wouldn't think a HOA has any assets. That was not a wealthy neighborhood with high association fees. They actually may have zero assets. In addition, what's to keep Zimmerman from filing a lawsuit against Martin's estate if he had life insurance or other assets?

palmetto1008
9782
Points
palmetto1008 04/15/12 - 03:28 pm
1
0
Exactly what would Zimmerman
Unpublished

Exactly what would Zimmerman be suing Martin for, Riverman. False imprisonment under the charge of second degree murder. What a sinister way to think about this.

Bruno
780
Points
Bruno 04/15/12 - 03:35 pm
0
0
It doesn't work that way RA

It doesn't work that way RA but you already know that.

Riverman1
84110
Points
Riverman1 04/15/12 - 03:42 pm
1
0
Palmetto, I don't think there

Palmetto, I don't think there will be any civil suits, but Z could sue if he were attacked physically, no matter if Martin was killed. The thing is probably neither Z or Martin's estate have any assets.

Pu239
284
Points
Pu239 04/15/12 - 07:32 pm
0
0
Didn’t Trayvon's mother
Unpublished

Didn’t Trayvon's mother recant the accident remark? It appears her handlers didn't find that remark in sync with their view of the prosecution of Zimmerman.

Double M
0
Points
Double M 04/16/12 - 05:05 am
1
0
I just don't understand why

I just don't understand why some people are supporters of a man that killed a 17-year-old boy, walking home from the store. This is the key fact of this case. If this was your son, brother, cousin, friend--would you HONESTLY feel the same? You know, deep in your heart, you would be calling for Zimmerman's arrest, too.

Riverman1
84110
Points
Riverman1 04/16/12 - 05:12 am
0
0
Double M, sure I could

Double M, sure I could understand the anger and grief if it were my relative who were killed. But, as you know, this is not a simple, cut and dried, case of a sniper simply shooting someone at random. That's why law enforcement and the judiciary can't let the emotions around the case override the facts.

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