That’s the question I’m asking as it becomes clear that a motivating force behind the Sunday shootings at the UU church was hatred of its liberal agenda. I sometimes feel like a stranger in a strange land living in this staunchly conservative part of Tennessee. I’ve learned to keep my views and opinions under wraps because they are so very different than those of the typical Knoxvillian. In fact, as I stood in line to vote during the last election cycle listening to the suspicions of the woman in front of me that her turbaned neighbors are members of the Taliban (they are my neighbors, too, and as I calmly explained to her, part of a peaceful ashram), I was inwardly disgusted and dismayed to know she was part of Knoxville’s electorate. Sometimes I want to throw in the towel and move away.
But intolerance, hatred, and injustice can be found wherever you live. I live here because my job and family are here. My generous, creative, and wonderful friends are here, and Knoxville itself is in the nascent stages of an exciting revival. There are sparks taking hold that one day may make this town a place regarded for its culture and history. I want to see that happen. And most people in this town--no matter their political persuasion--are kind and decent and generous. They aren't called the Volunteers for nothing.
So, in answer to the question why I live here, I live here because Knoxville is a good place to live. The horror of Sunday's violence doesn't define this place or its people. This is a good place. It's home.
That’s why I live here.