I’m not comfortable writing this, and that’s why I have to write it. In the past three weeks, I’ve given three different people advice that goes against my belief in the value of courage.
One of these people is a friend whose family pet was shot and killed in her driveway for no reason except that the young man who shot it had a gun and an opportunity. The other is a couple, also friends, who object to Sylva’s prominently displayed Confederate statue. In each separate conversation, I advised my friends to remain quiet because, as I told them, “Speaking out on these issues will change nothing, and you will only suffer if you try to change a culture.” I do believe that the culture of Jackson County, though in so many ways rich and worth preserving, is still very much insular, blindly protective of those we consider “our own,” and equally blind to the continued harm being done by romanticizing and whitewashing a flawed past. I believe this, and yet I would give my friends the same advice today as I did a few weeks ago, and it is because they are not from here.