Kapernick

Really, all we can do is fixate on a flag and an anthem?

So, we are largely a nation of test-takers rather than critical thinkers. This can tell you a lot about the obsession so many have with the American flag and the national anthem.

We have a two-pronged litmus test on something called patriotism. Do we revere the American flag and stand at proper attention for the singing of the national anthem?

There is so much more to life than being beholden to the term patriotism. If you want some intelligent conversation about it, listen to CNN’s Alisyn Camerota and John Berman’s discussion this morning on New Day with Bob Costas about patriotism, Trump, the NFL, and much more.

I presume that patriotism has something to do with loving your country and serving it as well. But when you think about it, if serving your country does an injustice to our global society or it simply does not make sense, are we supposed to blindly follow?

Think a little more. A flag is a piece of woven cloth. How it looks is …. how it looks. In the case of the United States, the symbolism of thirteen stripes of the original thirteen colonies and the fifty stars for the current fifty states is a good piece of near-trivia to know. But if you drill down on this, you recognize that nearly half of the original thirteen colonies were denizens of slavery. And among the fifty current states, our original sin of slavery has influenced enough people in our national government to gridlock measures to improve quality of life. So, if we’re talking about the substance of the U.S. flag, there may be more imperfections than we want to acknowledge, particularly if you’re African-American.

Yet it is so hard in this country to move away from revering a flag and toward having an honest conversation that includes critical thinking. So, we don’t, and we distill honoring the flag to supporting the military. And yes, it’s good to honor the soldiers, because many are brave and honorable, and most have been sent on fool’s errands because we don’t think through the consequences of our policies.

We as individuals, we as a country, we as citizens of Earth, are ever-changing works in progress. As stated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, we are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.

That’s a tall task and one that will challenge each of us our entire lives. We don’t have time to waste on bragging about ourselves and dwelling on symbolism while ignoring quality of life issues.

Oh, and by the way, it’s a game that conservatives love to play. It’s called the politics of distraction. Think about the flag and the anthem, and then don’t do squat about addressing poverty, human rights, a clean environment, and international peace.

If you graduated from high school, you spent 10,000 hours in classes. Is the best you can do to have a fixation about a piece of cloth while ignoring quality of life? It’s time to move on. We can do better, and it’s good that we have some in our society who are currently reminding us of that.

  • Stacy Mergenthal

    Well said, as always. It’s not just a Republican failure and I hate to bring partisan politics into the mix but this seems to be a real issue for conservative presidents. Trump was so busy unironically rage-reacting to players’ expression of their constitutionally protected rights, it has taken him 5 days to acknowledge the crisis in Puerto Rico. Salt to the wound, he had only negative things to say about the island territory; as if they are not worthy of our full and urgent effort to aid them. It sounds like many online commenters do not even know Puerto Ricans are U.S. citizens, much less the history of the U.S. flag and national anthem. Trump leads by example. I find myself more and more embarrassed by our country, like it’s an old racist relative the family uncomfortably tries to ignore at holiday gatherings.