“All children mythologise their birth. It is a universal trait. You want to know someone? Heart, mind and soul? Ask him to tell you about when he was born. What you get won’t be the truth: it will be a story. And nothing is more telling than a story.” — Diane Setterfield
Douglas, Georgia, like most of south Georgia, is unbelievably unremarkable. A small town with a population of just over 11,000, Douglas doesn’t have much going for it (unless you have a thing for Sugarland, in which case it happens to be the birthplace of Jennifer Nettles). It also happens to be the birthplace of me. Around 10 A.M. on July 2nd, 1998, I came into this world just like everyone else, kicking and screaming. My mother told me many years later that I had narrowly missed being the first baby born at the newly opened Coffee County Regional Medical Center, a title that I rue not obtaining to this day. I remember almost nothing about my hometown, except that I had a German Shepard named Nikki, whom our African-American neighbor was deathly afraid of, and a cat named Puddins, who met her untimely fate while walking across the highway about a half-mile from our home. Come to think of it, almost all of my memories of Douglas involve pets. Except for one.
There was a brick sign at the entrance of our neighborhood, and it announced the neighborhood’s name, which I have long since forgotten. Now you may ask, of all the things to remember about this town, why a brick sign. Well, this particular brick sign had a nasty habit of getting hit by cars. It was hit by vehicles no less than three times during the four years in which I lived in Douglas, and every time it suffered from a collision, I forced my father to pull myself and my little red wagon up to the neighborhood’s entrance so that I could assess the damage. I remember being astounded and somewhat amused that three different people could somehow find a way to ram their cars into the same brick sign.
I felt that same sense of astonishment numerous times this semester as I read stories about the lengths that humans will go to cause destruction. First I read “Brokeback Mountain”, and after learning that Jack had been murdered because of his sexual orientation, it struck me that human beings are willing to cause death and destruction over even the simplest and mundane differences. Then I studied up on David Freese, a person who would appear to have it all. He’s successful and rich, and yet he still the risked the lives himself and others by driving drunk. Finally, I studied about the destruction of democracy in modern Russia. I read about how the Russian government censors the media, and how many people who oppose the government find themselves threatened by death. After reading all these stories, I came to a conclusion. I believe that we as humans have a natural inclination to destroy. Be it a tire iron wielding madman bashing in another man’s skull because he’s gay, a millionaire athlete driving drunk and risking everything he’s worked so hard to achieve, or a government destroying the basic rights of its citizens, humans enjoy destruction. And maybe that’s why I found the repeated destruction of that brick sign so humorous.