In the U.S. we are immersed in a culture of fear, especially since the attacks of Sept. 11. The government's bottom line of all policy is national security. As citizens we are to report seemingly peculiar behavior and scary looking individuals. We lock everything that is possible to lock, including our auto tires. Our houses and yards are fortresses. There are "no-trespassing" signs and lights, alarms, gated communities and vigilante patrols everywhere. We distrust anyone who doesn't dress or look like us. Everything and everyone is suspect.

George Zimmerman was paranoid with fear. He didn't think, communicate or connect. He panicked and became violent. That is what fear will do to us. Let this be a wake-up call to all of us. We cannot survive living in an atmosphere of fear, violence and destruction.

We are each a part of the whole human race. We are one. Let us reach out to each other, connect, believe in each other and value each other. I know in this Earth there are more good eggs than bad. Trust and have faith in others. If you are let down, get up and try again. You'll feel the freedom as you reach out to connect with others. Freedom, inclusiveness and love are not without risk, but they do eliminate that terrible feeling of fear that can culminate in senseless tragedy.

Cassandra Naylor, Stevenson