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A More Perfect Union: Walking the Line Between Objection and Patriotism​

"When there's significant change, and I feel like that flag represents what it's supposed to represent and this country is representing people the way that it's supposed to, I'll stand."

How much is too much? There’s a thing as too much cologne. If I can smell you coming from down the hallway, that’s too much.

How much equality is too much, though? How many rights are granted to where we say, that’s too much? The answer doesn’t exist. Liberties aren’t measured by quantity, only quality. They’re either equal or they aren’t, nothing in between.

The point I’m making is that we as people rarely accept “just enough”. There can always be a bit more. In this case, this isn’t one more ill-advised dab of cologne, it’s basic civil rights. In most cases, equality is seen as excessive. There’s no “just enough” when your basic civic needs aren’t being met.

You have a house, don’t cry about the hole in the roof. You’re wearing clothes, don’t worry about not having a coat in the freezing winter. You’re judgment NFL athlete making 19 million a year, don’t worry about oppression.

This weekend, Colin Kaepernick refused to stand for the National Anthem. When asked about this choice, he said:

“Yes, I’ll continue to sit. I’m going to continue to stand with the people that are being oppressed. To me, this is something that has to change. When there’s significant change, and I feel like that flag represents what it’s supposed to represent and this country is representing people the way that it’s supposed to, I’ll stand.”

Concerned, fellow Americans took to Twitter to address Colin’s lapse of judgment. Here’s where they had to say (Twitter handles removed to protect the innocent).

“Kaepernick exudes a sand nigger visage with a safe family name”.

“This nigger Colin Kaepernick gets paid $114 million to throw a fucking ball. Yea, blacks are so oppressed in America”

“Burn Kaepernick’s jersey and buy one with the name of a good nigger on the back”

And personally, my favorite endearing exclamation: “Kaepernick you stupid NIGGER!!!!!!!!!”

<sarcasm> Clearly, Colin was wrong his comments. He is a citizen of a nation greatly concerned with his well-being and equality. </sarcasm>

This situation raises a very important question. One that I’ve been pondering since my own decision to not put my hand over my heart for the pledge.

Can one be patriotic with objections to his/her country?

The answer is simply yes.

This nation wasn’t formed by putting pen to paper. It was formed with lit torches, gunpowder, and muskets. When our nation’s forefathers felt oppressed by the tyrannical clutches of our mother nation action was taken. Many of our nation’s greatest leaders dressed up like a Village People cover band just to tell England “Nah bruh, we good on you and your trash ass tea”. When we read of these moments of activism in history books, they were always celebrated as minor triumphs that loosen the clutches of oppression from this nation. This nation was founded on the spirit of activism and standing up for what’s “right” (willfully ignoring that slavery thing here for the sake of this argument).

That same spirit still lives deep in the soul of every American. Not just white, but brown, black, and everyone else.

And protest isn’t bound by ideals of patriotism and nationalism when the oppressors don’t respect those boundaries either. So this makes Colin Kaepernick’s actions more patriotic than people bombarding him with racial slurs. Yes, he is indeed an NFL QB (albeit not a very good one at the moment). Yes, he lives a very posh lifestyle that usually empowers his peers to ignore matters of common folk. His taking a stand, or refusal to, in this case, means even more. He has nothing to gain by speaking up. There’s no contract bonus for an act of protest. There are no endorsements earned from doing this.

For many other Americans, America is utopia. It’s a beacon of Western Civilization. Saying that we can be err…great again implies that we’ve lost our way.  To many others, America has never been as great as it could be. This is often confused with not loving one’s country or not being appreciative. No, people just want that lil bit extra so they can be equal to others in this country. If nothing else, wanting your nation to improve exhibits love way more than it does hate or disdain.

This margin for improvement is listed in my favorite part of our Constitution, The Preamble.

We the people, in order to form a more perfect union

This phrase always perplexed me. “In order to form a perfect union” would have implied that we’re far from perfection. “More perfect Union” indicates that at its core, our system works, but there’s always room for improvement.

Listed in this Constitution are amendments, which means changes. In order to strive for this more perfect union, we must change. The impetus for change doesn’t need to be a jump-start from the people Colin spoke of,  but it needs it from the oppressor.

We too want what people in this country have. To stand and pledge allegiance to a flag adorned with stars representing this nation’s unity. We simply don’t feel this unity, though. We’re heavily invested in this nation’s strive for perfection, that’s why protest matters.

We can’t simply ignore it. We can’t simply pretend it doesn’t exist. And no, we won’t move back to Africa. Our ancestor’s hands were used to sew the red, white and blue fabric together that makes this American flag. We’re heavily invested in this country, that’s why we care. We too want to feel the unity other Americans feel because this is our home as much as it is anybody else’s.

The feeling of passing a beer at a 4th of July barbecue or high fiving someone when Kevin Durant drains a three shouldn’t be “special occasion” feelings. Rather, it should be a feeling of comradery that every American feels for his fellow-man. Until oppressed groups in this nation feel that it’s simply hard to raise your hand and pledge allegiance to a nation that doesn’t care about changing. Regardless of how much you love this nation.

Hopefully, Colin’s actions ignite a fire within other prominent American’s hearts. Not only blacks, but Muslims, Hispanics, LBGTQ community, or anyone who feels this good nation can indeed be great.

We won’t get there unless there’s a serious discussion about why most people feel this way about their country.

I’ll stop preaching and pass things off to our President, who made a speech titled “A More Perfect Union” in 2008. There’s a lot of fluff in this speech but overall a lot of these points are still valid today.

 

 

 

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