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Worth the fight

News that George Zimmerman’s killing of Trayvon Martin would not be reviewed by a grand jury rattled me yesterday. I get it. In a case with almost no physical evidence and no witnesses, it’s impossible for a district attorney to prove anything beyond a reasonable doubt. If Zimmerman sticks to his story we will never know what really happened.

The Trayvon Martin case made me think about my own neighborhood. My home office window looks out onto my block. Each day I look out my window and see Trayvon Martin walk by on his way to the store. Sure, the Trayvon’s in my neighborhood might be on bikes sometimes, or of a different race than the real Trayvon. Some Trayvon’s are even girls. Most of them are just going from their house to a friends house. A few smoke weed in the easement behind my house. And maybe some of them are up to worse things than that? But I’m guessing the teenagers in my neighborhood are probably a lot like the teenagers in your neighborhood, who are also just like the teenagers in Trayvon Martin’s neighborhood.

I wonder who advocates for the teenagers in my neighborhood? I wonder who looks out for them? Who do they go to when they get into a fight with their mom and storm out of the house? Who do they talk to about stuff they can’t talk to their parents about? Who do they ask the really hard, life-altering questions? I wonder who stands up to George Zimmerman, telling him to go home and find another hobby like a softball team? I wonder if I’d go outside and get between Zimmerman and Martin? I wonder if I’d be there to tell George to put his gun down and go home? Or would I just be looking through my blinds while it all went bad?

Pushing aside the distraction of the Trayvon Martin case, which happened thousands of miles from me, I wonder if I’m prepared to fight for the teenagers in my neighborhood?

More importantly I wonder what’s wrong with me if I’m not? Youth minister? Pfft. Who am I to bypass ministry to the teenagers on my block for the sake of ministering to the teenagers who show up at my church?

Question for my youth ministry friends: Do you see yourself as an advocate for teenagers in your community?

Photo credit: Justin Nether, via Baltimore Sun

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4 Responses to Worth the fight

  1. Youthdirector April 11, 2012 at 5:26 am #

    Living as I do just a few miles out of Sanford, this case and the discussion and media distortion gets rather personal. At our church, we deal with Trayvon’s on a daily basis…through our soup kitchen, our youth program, and our “at-risk” programs. It breaks my heart when a life, any life is lost, especially when I know we are on the ground attempting to do as much as we can to infuse Christ into these young lives.

    Just a couple of weeks ago, some of our local gang kids came to our youth program, one of whom has been a regular. I sat and talked with them a lot because I knew our “church kids” were basically scared and would not. Got to know them quite well. The following Wednesday night, these young men attempted a break in at our church (minus the regular attendee). So I contacted our regular and we went to our local Tarbucks (our only Starbucks is in Target unfortunately) and had a nice talk. Here’s a young man I am working with to leave the gang, but sadly, it offers the protection he needs just to get to and from school each day without getting jumped. Even worse, some over-zealous folks at the church took it upon themselves to accuse this teen and he has unplugged from us at this point.

    Not long ago, one of the ladies of our church was mugged at gun point after a choir concert. One of the muggers was a graduate of the at-risk program and while the church reached out in forgiveness to the family, it does not discount the fact that the second mugger was found to have an AK-47 with armor piercing rounds in it in a house just off our back parking lot.

    So what does this mean? It means even in the case of Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman, don’t allow the media or public to strip any individual, be it a Trayvon or a George, of the right to be innocent until “proven” guilty. Sometimes our our perceptions are on, validating our judgmental attitudes, but many times they are off…and we tend to say, “Oh well, I missed that.”

    Working with Trayvons on a daily basis…truly working with them…means you look at cases like this and just pray that the authorities…not the press or mob rule…get to the facts and make the right decisions so the healing can finally begin without celebrity ideologues stirring up unnecessary violence and bloodshed.

  2. shannon April 12, 2012 at 7:13 pm #

    My heart breaks for kids.  Our world is depraved and in a sad state.  I pray that Trayvon’s family will find closure and be able to move on.  I also pray God will be glorified in this situation, and he might be, for someone…  As for George Zimmerman, I think there is a lot the media is leaving out.  We don’t know what happened that night.  There are contradicting stories from everywhere.  NBC issued and apology for their creative editing of the 911 call.
    I can tell you that neighborhood watch groups are trained to watch kids after dark.  We have a neighborhood watch here and anybody out walking after dark will be questioned.  Do they sometimes use their position wrongly, yes.  (SEE DEPRAVED WORLD COMMENT). But there are situations they have helped.  A few runaways were found, kids were kept safe and 2-3 break-ins were stopped.  Try not to let your anger help you realize, we don’t know the truth here..  It was tragic and sad.  And more than 1 life was lost.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

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  2. Catholic Youth Ministry Blog » Stepping Beyond Our Ground - April 16, 2012

    […] stance to an other is not as an enemy by as a neighbor deserving of our love. Youth ministry leader Adam McLane looks through his own office window daily and sees within his neighborhood many of God’s children […]

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