Are We Comfortable Encountering Strangers Anymore?

Sebastian Matthews on Balancing Suspicion and Good Faith

Beyond Repair is told through a series of encounters with friends and neighbors, colleagues and strangers, from early 2014 to spring 2019. It’s the story of my re-emergence after surviving and recovering from a major car accident. When I finally returned to the world—as father and husband, friend and brother—it became clear that we were all trapped in a traumatized state—reeling from one after another police shooting of unarmed African-Americans, stunned by yet another mass shooting—and that everywhere people were displaying signs of PTSD.

My interactions in daily life became more and more dysfunctional—us against them, red vs. blue, rich vs. poor. That my family and I live in Asheville, NC—a progressive town inside a conservative county in the mountain South—only made things more volatile.

I tried to enter into these experiences as conscious as possible of the potential divides and misunderstandings between us—including my own unearned privilege as a middle-aged white man—while working to make meaningful connection. I started close by then traveled out into the wider world. At the same time, we were raising our teenage boy, doing our best to help him navigate this new, challenging environment.

Read the full excerpt here!