I think it’s come strongly into evidence by now that George Zimmerman was a man out for his neighborhood. This is an admirable instinct, but it’s obviously one that that has lead him to the ruin of his life. This begs a very serious question, for those who go about with firearms strapped to their persons. What duty do you owe to those around you?
I am drawn to the idea of a neighborhood banding together, to do what they can to fight crime, and the tyranny of the criminal element. That is a good and healthy thing. But banding together is a key element; you agree to watch each other’s backs, and come to the aid of the other when things in the neighborhood start to get real. You and all your neighbors should very much understand what this means.
This is an impossible standard in most communities, and to a large degree, we should feel fortunate for that fact, because most communities in the United States are so unbelievably safe by the standard of human history, that we just don’t practically think much about such matters. Regardless of ideals, crime in Suburban America is low enough that people feel it can justifiably be a matter left to professional agents of the state.
Sanford seems to be a community that’s seen some hard times since the collapse of the housing bubble. It’s been hit quite hard by the economy as well, and the crime profile has changed. George Zimmerman seems to have risen, apparently largely on his own ambition, to a leadership role as a community watchman. Community members seem to have appreciated this, but ultimately, what did it get him? And where were his fellow neighbors, which all had an interest the same community security, when things got very real for George Zimmerman?
When it comes to community protection, one has to be committed to collective community protection, where everyone is expected to pitch in and contribute, and watch each other’s backs. If you’re the lone sheepdog, it’s time to start re-examining your role, and thinking about whether it might be wise to live in a better neighborhood, with better people. It is not ideal, and is certainly far from the vision of community protection our founders thought they were encouraging with the 2nd Amendment, but is the world we live in today.
In that world, I don’t blame anyone who takes the attitude of protecting “me and mine.” General policing is really best left to people paid and trained to do it, with citizen intervention being left to life and death circumstances. That is, for better or worse, the world we have created; a world so safe by historical standards, most people don’t think about their own safety or that of their community, on a day by day basis, even in a community hit hard by the economy. I don’t know whether that’s something to be celebrated, or perhaps to be lamented. I suspect a little of both, since safety tends to breed complacency, and complacency is the enemy, over the long run, of safety.
What do you think?
28 Responses to “George Zimmerman and Civic Engagement”
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