Brian C. Johnson tells of picking up his children at school in Milton last Sept. 11 and running into a traffic jam with a lot of drivers honking horns while a teenager was being severely beaten by several assailants.
"I was scared, but I saw the blood coming out of the young man's face. I am 6-foot-4 and 300 pounds. I saw a problem I could do something about. All I had to do was go 'Hey! Hey! Hey!' All it took was for me to get out of the car."
First thing to know is that Johnson, a youth pastor at the Revival Tabernacle, a booming baritone and a practiced speaker, has a more impressive "hey!-hey!-hey!" than most.
Second, the beating he interrupted was the now infamous thugging dealt to a Milton 15-year-old by some street toughs who were paid $25 by another student's mom to deliver the assault.
That mom was sentenced Friday to 90 days to 23 1/2 months in jail and $900 in restitution. She expressed profound regret. The mother of the beaten teen expressed continuing terror. The hired hands in the matter have never been caught.
Pastor Johnson's point, however, was that there is a lot of inertia, apprehension and psychology anchoring bystanders. "Our culture of indifference is our number one problem."
This was the featured program in Milton's inaugural meeting of citizens interested in developing a caring community capable of positive action, held Sunday and hosted by Pastor Jilline R. Bond and school Superintendent Cathy S. Groller.
The topic was bullying. The message from Johnson was about involvement for positive change. "We are bandwagon people. What if we became a bandwagon community -- a community that takes care of people?" he said, challenging his audience of about 50 Sunday evening to say to bullies, "not in Milton" and "quit sending me this garbage" when abuse is delivered via the Internet.
Something similar seems to be taking shape in Snyder County's Midd-West School District, where Superintendent Wesley Knapp is inviting the public to a Community that Cares program at 6 p.m. Monday at the high school auditorium.
These invitations, in Milton and Middleburg, represent public schools' attempt to build partnerships against violence and abuse.
If we are not sure how, we will learn together. If you have ever thought, "schools ought to do something . . ." -- well, here is your chance.