John F. Kennedy was a great president. It certainly wasn’t for his ability to control his urges! It wasn’t for the Bay of Pigs either, that was pretty much a disaster. If you applied today’s media standards to him, they would say that instead of stopping the Soviet threat in Cuba that he brought the country to the brink of World War III. That is the funny thing about the news it is all just a matter of perspective isn’t it. What I think was great was how he brought the whole country together (Something sadly lacking at the present moment). When he challenged America to go to the moon the whole country got on board and everyone was proud to be an American. In spite of our differences we had a common goal.
For about the last thirty years the powers that be, on the left or on the right, have been trying to redefine what it is to be American. Let’s forget left and right for a moment. Do you think that there are dangers in the world that at the turn of a hat could affect the average person living in America? Terrorism, North Korea, China, or Russia?
I have spent the last three decades learning and teaching the Martial arts and self-defense. No matter how peaceful and nice you want to be there will always be bad people that would like nothing more than to attack, rob, rape or kill you. This is not made up or an exaggeration just simply open up you daily local paper and you will see one account after another confirming. So the first thing we must do is acknowledge that there are threats that we must learn to protect ourselves from. To do otherwise is like the preverbal ostrich sticking his head in the sand thinking that because he can’t see the threat it must not exist. Now just because you might have learned how to protect yourself doesn’t mean that you go around looking for trouble just to feel powerful or to test your abilities. This would be a fool’s errand. Running a country is much like this.
Ask yourself what does it mean to be a citizen of a country? Is it just living there? Is it just working there? The truth is I don’t think the vast majority of Americans know what it is anymore and a fewer amount have any clue to its significance or why it matters. Because the powers that be would like the country to become something it is not they have been chipping away at what it means to be a citizen. They have done this because they would like for it not to have any meaning at all. The truth is if you make being a citizen have absolutely no meaning you no longer have a country. A country is by definition made up of citizens.
Throughout the history of the United States, except the civil war and Perl Harbor, the battles have all been fought overseas. So even though people lost loved ones in these conflicts they did not see the conflicts themselves. They were literally isolated from the actual horrors of war. When a war was going on for the people at home life did not really change that much. In WWI, WWII, and the Korean war people back home at least paid close attention to what was happening during the war. They were Americans and since it affected America it affected them as well. When the solders came home they were met with ticket tape parades and were commended for their heroism. During the Vietnam war even though the country was more than split people still paid attention to what was happening and went out on the streets to protest what they didn’t agree with, they cared what was happening. They exercised their rights as citizens. Unfortunately this was really the beginning of the horrible practice of the solders themselves being blamed for a war that many people did not agree with. Those solders were serving their country just like the solders in the other previous wars. There was no ticket tape parade when they returned. Many were spat on and harassed by the protestors. During the Iraq war although there was public debate about whether we should have gone there or not people did not really pay to much attention to what was happening. In Afghanistan it was even worse. You may hear a short report of a solder that was killed or see it on the 5th page of the newspaper. When is the last time that you have heard absolutely anything at all about it on the farce they call the news? You do know that there is still a war going on in Afghanistan right? Sad isn’t it?
To be a citizen means that you have a vested interest in the success of the country as a whole. That you believe in that countries core beliefs and values. Most significant is that you yourself are willing to risk yourself to protect it. That is what the members of our armed forces do every day. They risk their lives to protect us and our freedoms. They do not question where their country sends them or who they must fight, they just go and do what it is they are supposed to do. During Vietnam we had a draft. People were picked to go into the military and had no choice about it. Now we have an all-volunteer military. Do you recognize the significance of that? These people volunteer to join the military because they believe in our countries core beliefs, values, and that they have a stake in our success as a nation. They believe in our freedoms and that they are worth dying for to protect. So for the solders it is worth dying for and for so many others they don’t even think that it is worth standing up for! Because they are willing to do this the rest of you do not have to. That should be appreciated and respected by everyone. They next big conflict our country finds itself in you will find out that it is not in some far away land. It will be at your front door step and then you will appreciate the people that serve our country. Americans have taken this all for granted. Most have never seen true poverty or oppression that you find in many other countries. They go through their daily life giving no thought to how lucky they are to live in this country and enjoy its benefits. Those people that try to enter our country from our southern border risk their lives to get here, why do they do that if this country is as terrible as many Americans make it out to be.
The representation of the core beliefs of our country and those that have died to protect it is our Flag and the National anthem. People have to try to understand this distinction. The Flag represents our core beliefs of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, Freedom of speech, Freedom of religion, Self-governing, and Freedom in general. It is all of the things that we STRIVE for as a country even if we have fallen short on some of them. These are the things that make America, America and different from other countries. The very fact that we are working towards these things is what sets us apart. These are things we can all stand up for even if we have a grievance about something else. What the flag does not represent is every imperfection and problem in American society. We are not perfect but the ideals for which the Flag stands for are as perfect as any government has ever attempted to be. The ideals are lofty, it is people that screw up the implementation of them that is the problem. People who have never been in the military or seen the injustices in other countries may just think of the Flag as another piece of cloth. It’s not!
So if you are upset about the environment, distribution of wealth, racial inequality, or gender inequality you have the right in our country to protest. Yes sadly you can even disrespect or burn the flag. But you should stop for a moment and realize that the Flag does not represent the police, a factory bellowing out smoke, the person or company that is discrimination against you, It represents your very right and ability to protest, change, and eliminate those injustices. So in effect you are protesting all the freedoms you have and all of those that have died to protect them.
I have to give something to Kapernick, when he started kneeling in protest at least he said what it was he was protesting. Since then the others that have joined in do not seem to even be aware what he was protesting for. The problem with this is not the protesting itself, that is a protected right that the Flag stands for, it is where and when he choose to protest that is debatable. First he is an employee of the NFL. Do you think that in the middle of your work day that you could just stand up grab a sign and start walking circles around the office protesting something? No you cannot. That is because when you agreed to take the job as a condition of your employment you agree to abide by rules that the company sets for your behavior while working. While you are working you are representing the company. If the NFL agrees that it is alright that he does this then that solves that problem. The only issue is that they have stopped other players from doing similar things like wearing pink for breast cancer awareness, names of the Dallas cops that were executed on their helmets or 911 on their socks on the anniversary of 911. It would seem that the NHL opens itself up to a discrimination lawsuit if they allow one and not the other. As I said before he has every right to do this if his employer allows it. The question comes down to should he? I personally don’t think he shouldn’t. The reason for this is what I said before. Kapernick is protesting the police’s treatment of minorities. The flag does not represent the police or their treatment of minorities. This is evident in the fact that since he started the protest people are not talking about what he intended to bring to light. So if for no other reason by choosing to protest during the anthem he has lost the effect he could have had if he had done it at another time. These are professional football players. The media follows them around like puppies. Do you know how much attention he could have brought to his original cause if he had got a group of players together and protested outside the stadium after the game? Then the meaning of the protest wouldn’t have gotten lost. Some people in the media have gotten upset because people bring up the money that these guys make. Well I think that it is significant in the fact that many of these sports figures come from poor intercity neighborhoods and have worked their way up to be making millions of dollars. That should be celebrated, how many other places but America does that happen. Another other sad thing is that even though we still have racial problems and discrimination we did elect the first black President. That should also be celebrated and recognized for what it means. He was not just elected by black people, that means something in the whole debate about where the country is on race, doesn’t it? The left likes to praise Europe and their forms of government all the time. Let me ask you this how many European countries have elected a black prime minister?
Besides the reasons I have already mentioned I find it sad for people to protest during the Anthem or against the flag because this is the time when people forget about their differences and can be united as Americans in spite of their differences. Just like when Kennedy challenged us to go to the moon. Baseball, Basketball, and Football are all American pastimes. It is when we can celebrate the good in America and sit right next to someone from a different race, and different party, and who cheers for a different team and just enjoy ourselves.
Like it or not these players have the right to protest and the freedom of speech. If people are bothered about what the football players are doing don’t tell them that they cannot kneel. Instead use your own freedom of speech and don’t turn the T.V. on to watch the games or don’t but tickets to the game. If you are not willing to do that they maybe you should just stop complaining about it.
Well I will have to have a part 5. I just want to finish up tying up some of what may have appeared as random rambling and to talk a little about freedom of speech. I promise this will be the last one. I was expecting a lot of backlash for these posts. Since I have not gotten any comments I must assume no one is reading them.