I have spent most of the week wondering whether or not to write this post. I have tried to take my emotion out of it, to not respond hastily or in anger. I have debated why this post was necessary, if it was necessary, and what I hoped to gain writing it.
The simple reality is I desire this space to be a place where we can shed pretense and simply come. In Braving the Wilderness, Brene Brown talks about moving out of our camps. She talks about how the middle is the loneliest, scariest, bravest place because it is a place many don’t venture to. I long to be a voice that calls people out of cliches and rhetoric and into something we truly ponder for ourselves. I long to be a voice of consistency. While I hold certain political beliefs, I am first and foremost a child of God and live my life determining my actions against His Word.
I am a sojourner. This is not my home. C.S. Lewis said, “If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.” In Hebrews, Paul talks about running the race before us with our eyes fixed on Jesus (Hebrews 12:2). I take that as setting our gaze on the horizon, “admitting that (we are) foreigners and strangers on earth. People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one.” (Heb 11:13-16).
This world holds little joy for me. I look at the pain and violence and hold onto the hope of what is to come. But as long as I am here, I believe I am called to make the world better – to bring heaven down as it were, so that is what I try to do here.
So here we go.
The flag is a piece of cloth we have attributed value and reverence to. We have attached certain principles and meanings to it. But by itself, it is nothing by a symbol of what we have said as a nation is important.
In recent years sports stars have chosen to kneel during the anthem. Some see this as disrespect to the flag. Others see it as a way of saying we have not met the ideals attached to it. Some see the flag as something to be respected. Others see the ideas and tenants of why we respect the flag as primary and simply want to highlight that we have failed to meet the ideals we so boldly cling to.
The flag has meaning because, to many, they see the generations of men and women who have fought, sacrificed, and sometimes died, to defend the freedoms we attach to our flag. It is hard to admit those individuals have died and we still are not where we need to be. But if we cannot get beyond our nationalism and back to patriotism, we will keep making the mistakes of the last 400 years.
The flag has meaning because of the people it represents. The flag is a piece of cloth. The military is flesh and blood people, someone’s father, mother, daughter, grandfather… It is people who have chosen to put their lives on the line, to sacrifice time with family, continuity, and who are called upon to go to places most of us want nothing to do with.
My husband gave over 20 years to the Air Force. His father served in the Korean War. My stepdaughter served in the Navy. I am proud of them and stand with our military. With is why the last week has left me dumbfounded.
Multiple news sources (even Fox News!) have confirmed the profusion of disparaging remarks Trump has made against the military. I am not going to rewrite them here. You can google that if needed.
Over the last few years the greatest pushback I have received regarding my support of athletes (and others) kneeling during the anthem is from those with a loved one in the military (though, interestingly not the service member themselves). I have been told it is unamerican to kneel, it is disrespectful and there are other ways to protest.
So I have found it remarkably saddening that the people I have heard NOT talking about these recent developments are those in the military.
Kaepernick and others “disrespected” the flag.
The Commander and Chief – the one responsible for overseeing our military, for sending them into battle, for advocating for their best interest, for having their back, in his own words revealed he has no idea why they are there.
He has made disparaging comments against families who lost their sons in combat. He has made it clear he has no respect for service members who are injured. To him, our military are props and figurines to boost his ego and make him feel powerful.
He desecrated the memory of John McCain and those who get riled up about the flag were silent. He uses military troops against fellow Americans and veterans groups are absent in the dissent.
This is not a post about Trump. This is a call to those who were so mad about a piece of cloth to ask why they are giving a pass to the man who is responsible for the lives of their family members. It is a plea for why you get mad at people calling our country to be all we say it is, and yet can vote for a man who does not get why you and your families move every 3-4 years, why you want to protect us, why days like the 4th of July, Veterans Day, December 11th, etc. matter.
Most veterans serve out of senses of loyalty, altruism, to protect others, because they are brave. After this week, how can veterans (or their families) continue to support a man who despises all of those things and looks down on them because they don’t?
Five news sources have confirmed what was said (including good ‘ol Fox News). I have yet to see the outrage and disgust towards Trump that I have seen towards athletes using their First Amendment rights to call us to the ideals our flag embodies.
People say athletes don’t respect the flag. I say athletes respect it more than most. They do not give it blind devotion. They look at it for all we have let it become and look at where we are and ask the rest of us to help reach our fullest potential.
I come here and sit in the middle to simply ask for consistency. I ask not for justification or debate, but simply – as someone who believes all people are created equal and matter to God – am heartbroken that some will choose, yet again, ignore Trump’s inhumane comments about others and still consider giving this man four more years.
The flag has meaning because we let it. How can we fight so violently over a piece of cloth and not bring the same passion and accountability to the person tasked with overseeing and carrying on those ideals?