With unprecedented intimacy and frequency, Americans are becoming witnesses to murder.
With the videos of beheadings and the footage of black people being murdered by police, we’ve begun watching real people die violently in real time, often from the palm of our hands or from the screens in our laps.
Last Saturday, my youngest son and I spent an afternoon carefully stacking a half-dozen rocks that had been worn smooth and elliptical by the French Broad River that eddied around our knees. The swift river and its small pockets of whitewater drowned out the world around us as we built a small impromptu cairn together for his birthday. After we balanced the final stone, he sat on the large foundation rock rising out of the river and clasped his hands together.
As his lips whispered a prayer, I looked around and felt at peace.
I have burned one flag in my life. In college, some friends and I set a Confederate flag ablaze in a parking lot one summer afternoon. It was a symbolic way for us to renounce our racist heritage as young southern men.