Hey Team,

I passed by a memorial today and it made me sad…but for all the wrong reasons. It was an enormous statue of a man on horseback in a Confederate cavalry uniform surrounded by the thirteen flags of the Confederacy. The man was Nathan Bedford Forrest.

Bedford Memorial

It was a tough thing to think about. After driving by it with my Nashville hosts, I spent the rest of the ride sitting in complete silence trying to figure out why anyone would go through the effort of building and maintaining such a colossal tribute to hate. And the more I thought about it the more incapable I found myself of actually being able to wrap my head around this monstrosity.

Part of the reason it’s so difficult to understand is my own upbringing. California has the highest minority population of any state in the Union and growing up in the neighborhood I did means I was the one in the minority. But that was the norm. The biggest culture shock I’ve ever encountered, even more so than fighting through a language barrier in another country, was moving to a rural area where I was suddenly surrounded by nothing but white people.

It boggles my mind that people can not only waste so much time focusing on the differences that separate them from others but willfully ignore all the similarities. It’s so easy to have something in common with someone, (a fact that I have proven to myself everyday for the last 154 days) why not revel in that?

Here’s a hypothetical: You’re at a party and you’re the only one there that doesn’t drink alcohol. Yes, you could stand in the corner and be miserable all night or you can go talk to literally ANYONE and make a new friend. Who in their right mind would choose to stand alone and silently fume about all the people that have a single characteristic that varies from their own?

I’ll tell you who. The dude that put up that statue.

But here’s where things got even more complicated. (As life has a habit of getting when you think too hard.) The statue, although huge and right next to a major freeway, was built on private property by the landowner. So suddenly I’m faced with conflicting ideals in my own head.

I believe in rights. We all have a right to own stuff. We all have a right to use our possessions however we see fit. AND, lucky for this guy, we all have the right to act like a jackass.

So maybe Captain Jackass has some redeeming quality about him that would make him worth talking to at that party. And maybe I’m a hypocrite. But for now I’m just going to be happy that I have the right to stand in my corner all night and hate that douche bag and his stupid memorial.

I’m done.

Brett.

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