September 8, 2016

The National Anthem, Free Speech, And Honoring The Symbol

I have gone through many thoughts about Kaepernick's refusal to stand for the National Anthem. I first felt a disdain for what he did. I thought that it was absolutely disrepectful. However, I began to think, what if I felt the same way that he did about my country? I love my country and I believe in what it represents to the world. However, I am very fearful that it is becoming something that does not represent me nor what our country was meant to be. So, what if it became the great monster that some would have us believe we are? I began to sympathize with his actions. I myself might not sit, because I understand what the flag represents, but I began to understand where he was coming from, at least I could see myself possibly having a hard time saluting a flag that meant something different than what I know it represents.

I began to ponder this situation and did some soul searching and praying. What could one do that would honor the memory of the flag and those who have fought to preserve the ideals of this country, and still let their voice be known that they were concerned about the things that they did not agree with about our country?

I believe in the right to freely speak, but I also believe that we do not have a right to avoid consequences. It is one of the beauties about our system. You have the right to choose, but you do not have the right to pick your consequences. The power of risk is this, that if you risk and win, you win outright, but if you lose you lose outright and have to start over.

So, as I thought about this situation I began to recite the pledge of allegiance. As I did this it struck me that the greatest thing we can do to protest what we think is wrong with America is to do something bigger that we think represents what America should be. If we think that America should be just then define it. Honestly search inside yourself and decide what justice is. Not based on what anyone else tells you justice is, but what you know justice is. If you think that this nation is immoral, figure out what moral is and live it according to what YOU know is moral. What ever great ideal you think this nation is suppose to represent, define it, and live it in a big way, just like Martin Luther King Jr. did. 

Martin Luther King Jr. was not perfect, but he stood for what he thought America should be, and he lived it in a big way. He did not desecrate the flag. He flew it higher and made everyone else look up at it. He made everyone remember the words, "one nation under God, indivisible..." He did not seek to divide or be divisive. He wanted true equality. He wanted us to realize that truly all men were created equal. It was his dream that we recognize the character of the man not the color of his skin.

This kind of protest is positive and honors the symbol of all those who have fought for our right to speak freely. This kind of protest would give life to our country, and promote unity and justice. This kind of protest would be filled with nothing but love in ones heart toward even those whom they feel wronged by. This kind of protest might display righteous indignation, but would be void of anger. This kind of protest would require more soul searching and personal purification. It would require us to face our own fears of who we are. Because it would force us to recognize that we are all children of God, and that makes us equal. And if we are equal then the only thing that truly does matter is the character of the man.

What Kaepernick did was wrong. He disrespected the memory of those who made it possible for him to become what he is today. He disrespected all those who fought for the symbol of a republic which united, would stand one nation under God, indivisible, with justice for all. Kaepernick was wrong, but I don't believe that he deserves the hatred that he is receiving, I think he simply needs to come up with a better way to make his voice known. He might start by reading How to Win Friends and Influence People. There he will learn that you attract more bees with honey. Reading between the lines he might also realize why the flies of hatred are hanging around.

To protest an injustice is good, but know what injustice is, and don't trample the symbol of justice...Raise it higher! Point to it and remind us that we, as a people, should be better than what we are. Rather than be silent, Yell it from the house tops, "With justice FOR ALL..." And when the National Anthem is sung, remember the bodies of the men who died, holding up that flag, that we as prisoners on the boat, might see the flag over the ramparts and hold fast to hope. 

I truly believe that those who are angry over this have every right to be, although I do not see that it honors the flag any more than Mr. Kaepernick. Honor the flag by not allowing others to divide us. That is how you stand for the National Anthem. Too many of us are sitting for the National Anthem, simply by not seeking unity, and understanding to keep us together.

No comments: