To go or not to go. (Would you?)

You are visiting a town or city where a terrible tragedy had taken place days before. Do you go see? Or not. There are two camps on this question.

Many would see it as “not a tourist site” and disrespectful. I can’t and wouldn’t argue that perspective and I’m glad that thought exists. (There ARE people who just want ‘selfies’, etc.) So, out of respect you may want to skip this post.

There are others who want a ‘perspective’ to try to understand or even get closer with the people who have suffered, to share respect, support, or for other various reasons such as selfish, but well-meaning curiosity. I found myself in between those thoughts while in Charleston, S.C., shortly after a massacre of elderly, praying people. We all know the details. What struck me about this was the out-pouring of “love and sympathy” in the midst of a string of shootings around the U.S., instead of the “anger” demonstrated elsewhere. I respect that there are also two camps of thought on that as well, but I’m not there (or here) to state ‘facts’ or my opinion regardless. Just a visitor sharing his experience, and each can draw their own conclusions.

Right or wrong, I decided to go. I first contacted a couple of friends of mine (who are experienced, professional, REAL journalists) and asked what they thought. “You’re asking a journalist? Of COURSE I’d go!” replied one. I took my camera but put it away while I read the messages and observed the emotions of people. It was .. very.. quiet. Respectful. It was ‘human’ and touching in a sense that’s hard to explain. I was a visitor and they were mostly locals, but without talk or touch we were all connected with human emotion for our short visit together. It was what it was. It happened. And now people had observed, paused, and needed to not feel alone while they waited for normalcy – which would never return in full.

I could leave but they couldn’t.

I loved Charleston and is tops on my ‘return to’ cities with its incredible French Quarter, restaurants, amazing historical and scenic waterfront, but most of all its people. I made a couple of friends for life who I’ll never see again. But that’s the road-trip.

Again right or wrong, as I left I decided to take a pic. I don’t think they would mind.

Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church