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The Golden Rule

Posted on Monday, November 11, 2013    

In a recent interview for the Docket, a publication of the Arkansas Trial Lawyers Association, I discussed Take 25 and how others can become involved to help protect children. I’ve included the discussion below. JM

Take 25 is a preventative child safety campaign created by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. The Take 25 campaign encourages parents, guardians, educators, and others to take 25 minutes and talk to children about safety. The Morgan Nick Foundation and McCutchen and Sexton The Law Firm partnered to bring a Take 25 event in our community, it is called Ride 4 Their Lives. The 3rd annual event is a 20 mile bicycle ride scheduled for May 18, 2012 to educate, empower and protect children in our community. Cyclists will ride to Fort Smith area elementary schools to reinforce the safety message that was presented to students in the weeks preceding the event.

For many years I read news story after new story about young people who were abducted, abused or hurt in some other way. Kids are my passion. Some nights I would lay awake and ask myself, “How can I help and make sure that the tragedies I continue to read about don’t happen again. I decided that I’d take a simple step and go visit with Colleen Nick of the Morgan Nick Foundation. We visited and, as fate would have it, she was looking for an event to educate, empower and protect our children. We landed on the Ride 4 Their lives concept and immediately started planning our first event in May 2010.

I am most rewarded when I have a young person come up to me and tell me that they heard me talk about safety and learned valuable lessons about safety that they applied to a dangerous situation. As noted above, Take 25 is preventative and I am most rewarded by thoughts that we as community members, can keep children from getting hurt in the first place. That thought stimulates and motivates me to speak about child safety to as many kids’ groups as I can. The magnitude of the child safety issue has gained national attention with the child abuse scandal at Penn State University. The child abuse issue is here and now. It happened in State College, Pa and is happening in Fort Smith, Arkansas and all places in between. We are given a choice and an opportunity to make a big difference during a difficult time.

It is important for trial lawyers to get involved in our communities because a third of jury-eligible Americans fear and hate trial lawyers. It’s simply not enough to rely on shallow platitudes like “We’re here for the little guy,” or “We’re here to protect families.” As William Shakespeare said, “Words are not deeds.” What should trial lawyers and organizations do? As America most-respected trial consultant has said, “We need to do things that help others in ways that do not simultaneously help ourselves. We need to regularly, publically, and selflessly commit altruism.”

For trial lawyers and others who want to get involved in their communities, I would ask you to think about the following questions: “With whom do you feel most fluent? Teenagers? The Elderly? The Poor? The alcoholic? The sick? For whom do you feel the most compassion? What are you most passionate about? What can you be the best at? After you reflect on these questions, you will know where your heart is and you will know where you can make a difference. Then, it’s simple. Have a kind eye and a helping hand and get started. There is example after example in human history of God using the common Joe to make a difference.