People Looking Out For Others.

Much has been written and said concerning the Trayvon Martin / George Zimmerman encounter that left 17 year old Martin dead and Zimmerman the target of death threats and bounties.

One of the key points of discussions in the case is Trayvon Martin’s right to walk down a street unmolested. Hopefully running parallel to that is the right of people – including Martin – to feel safe in their homes and neighborhoods. Towards that end, neighborhood watch groups were formed.

Based on the concept of people looking out for each other, watch programs have helped prevent crimes and tried to help take streets back from thugs and criminals.

It is hard to believe that we need such groups. By that we mean “have we really come that far from looking out for our fellow man that we need to have organized groups to be on the look out for suspicious activity?” Looking out for some one who lived in your area was something neighbors did. Now it seems we have people who simply live next door and who don’t want to “get involved.”

Some people have laid this apparent lack of concern partially at the feet of “privacy fences.” After all, if you can’t see the people who live next to you and they can’t see you, why should you care about each other?

As an example, we spotted a story today coming out of Cary, North Carolina. Cary is a town of roughly 135,000 people who are employed in various industries, including software development companies.

The town is also home to 12 year old Nolan Turner. Turner is in fifth grade and is wheelchair bound. He also plays competitive wheelchair basketball. His friends at school kept asking him what is was like to play wheelchair basketball, so Turner got the idea of showing them; he would bring the game to his school.

The costs to do something like this surprised us. Turner was told it would cost $250 to rent the chairs and gear, plus pay for the insurance needed to have his friends participate in the sport he loves. Not satisfied with just his friends and classmates playing, Turner wanted the entire school to experience the sport. The costs went up to $1000. The school could not or would not pay for the event, so Turner decided to raise funds on his own.

Turner started selling bottled water in his neighborhood. Just that simple. People would stop by, get some water, and leave some money for the fund.

At some point, events took a turn for the worse.

But as [Turner] began to work the neighborhood near High Meadow Drive about 6:30 p.m., a man he didn’t recognize grabbed his money bucket and unhurriedly walked away, according to Cary Police Department Capt. Mike Williams. Nolan yelled and screamed at the man but was helpless to follow him.

Williams said the cash bucket was found near 119 Winners Circle later that evening. Only some coins were left.

Here is how Turner’s father described the fund raising and the incident:

My son Nolan Turner is trying to bring his wheelchair basketball team sponsor, BridgeIISports, to his school Briarcliff Elementary so that all of his friends can experience what it is like to play sports in a wheelchair. He really enjoys it.

It is going to be $1000 to cover the costs so that the organization can be there the whole day. This is so that the ENTIRE school will get to experience this. Anyway, he has been sitting out on the sidewalk selling bottled water for $1. Sitting there in his wheelchair, doing tricks for those who came by and donated or purchased some water. Today (March 22) he was sitting there selling and some low life comes by and stole the money he had made. He had already made enough to cover just his class ($250) and was trying to earn more so that the school could do it. The thief took approximately $150 from the jar.

Somewhere in this world there are pieces of scum so low and vile they are willing to steal from a kid in a wheelchair who was raising money not for himself, but to help educate and expose others to the sport he loves.

(In a case of people stepping up to help after the theft, the donation page Turner’s father established has now collected over $13,000 to help more kids in more schools experience the sport Turner loves.)

Through the eyes of the events of the last month, we have to ask “would a neighborhood watch program caught the scum that stole the money? Seen him to get a better description?” Also, “why were Turner’s cries for help unheeded and unanswered?”

Is that how we help our fellow man?

When one examines the Martin / Zimmerman encounter, one has to ask if things would have turned out differently if both men recognized the others state of mind and point of view.

Would Martin had been worried if he knew Zimmerman was looking out for the house in which he was staying as well as Martin himself? Would Martin have appreciated the fact that if he were beset upon by thugs and muggers, Zimmerman would have been there to help him?

Did Zimmerman appreciate that Martin did not see someone from a neighborhood watch program, but an “unknown person who was following” Martin? Did Zimmerman not take into account that Martin could have been out for a walk to the store and had every right to be in the gated community?

If both men had come together trying to understand the mindset and point of view of the other, would Martin be dead and Zimmerman in hiding out of fear for his life?

We don’t think so. We think an entirely different result would have happened. It is very possible the two men could have become acquaintances for the time Martin was staying in the complex.

Instead, each man was looking through only the myopic views of their own lives and experiences. Instead of working together for the good of each, they ended up in a confrontation resulting in the death of one and the ruination of the other. The episode is being used to further divide the country along lines we should have wiped from the face of the earth long ago.

The Nolan Turner incident should tell us all how we must look out for each other to better not only ourselves, but the world in which we live. The Martin / Zimmerman incident demonstrates what happens when we do not look to help each other and think only of the worst in other people.

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