Byproduct of a scared society

The George Zimmerman trial and its resulting controversial verdict symbolize a basic breakdown of society.

The sides are absolute polar opposites – there are many who are outraged by the fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin and believe Zimmerman should have gone to prison for life for second-degree murder.

The opposites think Zimmerman was heroically defending his neighborhood and shot the 17-year-old Martin to save his own life.

Nowhere in all of this debate is the question of why so-called Neighborhood Watches and “Stand Your Ground Laws” even exist. And the real answer to that question is the crux of the matter:

Neighborhood Watches and Stand Your Ground are symbols of a frightened society. Burglaries are an epidemic and many feel – as we do – that the loss of the war against drugs is causing a breakdown in society.

Virtually every local criminal trial we read about involves drug abuse. So many assaults and thefts seem to be the result of a defendant making “bad choices” about drug use. The formulas are simple ones:

* Drugs costing money equals theft.

* Drugs causing irrational thoughts equals assault of others including – often – loved ones.

We don’t think what George Zimmerman was doing was heroic. We’re pretty certain he was every bit as afraid as Trayvon Martin was.

We’re not certain there was any racial profiling involved, either. To Zimmerman, Martin was a stranger in the neighborhood and, thus, a suspicious person.

And that is all it takes in a frightened society to set the table for tragedy. The table will remain set for more of these tragedies until we find a way to deal with drugs effectively and ease the fears of society.

(For the next few days, guest editorials will appear in this space as we go in for a medical tuneup.)

* Editorials reflect the opinion of the publisher.