I visited the birthplace and childhood home of scientist and educator George Washington Carver.
I stood in a parking lot and looked upward to the hotel balcony where Civil Rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated.
I drove down Florissant Avenue in Ferguson, Missouri, site of the 2014 race riots following a grand jury's decision not to indict a white police officer for his shooting of an African American.
I walked a street in Baltimore, Maryland, where I was the only white man among hundreds of people of color, only to be told by workers at the local tourism office that I should not be there and that I should return to my hotel room immediately.
I visited the Springfield, Illinois, location of race riots that spawned the development of the NAACP.
Still, I find it very hard to wrap my mind around what some people think is fair.
No, I do not understand the idea of "live and let die", "kill for revenge, or hatred of any kind; instead, I try to understand my own responsibilities. I control my own actions and reactions.
I know that I am to love the Lord, my God, with all my mind, heart, and soul. I know I must love my neighbor as myself. I understand that I cannot force a person to adopt my faith as his own, but that I can influence a person to adopt faith through education. I understand that I can be wrong, but that I can learn from my mistakes and make changes in my life.
I understand that facts, vocabulary, and speech content do matter. I believe that attitudes can be transparent, but that perceptions are not always true.
I believe that music reflects and transforms mood, and when properly applied can drive my worship. I believe I communicate with a higher Power when I study my Bible and when I pray. I believe I must remember the Gospel every first day of the week, and that I should do so with both my physical and my spiritual families.
I know that I must avoid all forms of idolatry, whether in the form of sports, celebrity worship, material pride, or racism. I understand that people are bull-headed and difficult to positively persuade, while at the same time they are soft and easily tempted to engage in destructive activities. I am under the impression that I can easily to go along with a crowd in order to avoid conflict, but that in doing so I may cause conflict. I know that I should treat other people the way I want to be treated. I know it is not as much the way I act, but the way I react to the hazards and detours in life that make me the person I am.
I simply must train my conscience to make the right decisions, train my children to do the same, and respectfully influence neighbors and strangers to adopt mannerly attitudes. I teach. I preach. I write. I speak. I engage the community.
But my struggle remains: that communication gap that I have with people who do not understand me. While I sit with a quizzical expression on my face, not understanding irrational racists, violent religionists, adamant disbelievers, and fornication mongers, I must understand that the lack of communication is a two-lane highway, and people often do not understand me either.
How do we speak each other's language? How do we bridge the communication gap?
How do we understand driving emotion? Irrational fear? Uncontrolled anger? Raging hatred?
What part do I have to play? As a parent? As a husband? As a teacher? As a deacon in the Lord's church? As a man? As a Christian?
I visited Crazy Horse's monument.
I walked on the Trail of Tears.
I explored Anasazi ruins.
I danced with Sioux Indians in Colorado.
I visited the Cherokee Nation Headquarters in Oklahoma.
But proximity does not always translate to understanding. All I can do is my best to treat people like people, brothers like brothers, and every human being like a member of the single, human race.