We have an undeniable problem with hypocrisy in this country when it comes to traditions like the pledge of allegiance and the national anthem. For example, on Feb. 4, an 11 year old boy was arrested in Florida after refusing to stand for the pledge in an incident with his teacher that escalated beyond belief.
This event is just the newest example in a series of conversations about respect for this country, its history, soldiers and veterans in the face of protests that involve a refusal to participate in traditions like standing for the pledge of allegiance and the national anthem.
This conversation has been discussed at length, particularly when it comes to football due to the leadership of Colin Kaepernick, who was equally respected and reviled for taking a knee during the national anthem in 2016. The point is, people are taking these age-old traditions far too seriously. These things do not represent the country and everyone in it.
A choice not to stand for the national anthem, or not to recite the pledge of allegiance is not a statement that a person hates America. For many people it is quite the opposite, they believe in America enough to believe that it can be better than it has been and that our nation can work harder to address mistakes of the past and present.
People who claim that dissatisfied citizens should just leave if they think the country is so flawed are communicating something dangerous. They are saying that rather than attempting to fix what is broken in the country, people should ignore problems, silence dissent, and force others to accept unjust life circumstances. Progress cannot be achieved without listening.
If Americans are willing to gloss over history and ignore atrocities and injustices happening in front of their eyes right now, then nothing separates the US from countries that self-righteous Americans deem corrupt and founded on unjust systems.
Even more important than these points is the fact that we live in a country that was founded upon a Constitution of which the first amendment asserts that people have freedom of speech. Why then, are people who claim to love America so determined to undermine one of its strongest principles when people choose not to express undying loyalty to a country that could be doing better?
Those who claim to be defending veterans are misguided at best, if not deluded. It is not as if soldiers went to war for the American flag itself, nor the national anthem, nor the pledge of allegiance. In theory, they went to war for the ideals that these symbols claimed to represent. The same ideals that are undermined when people condemn others for protesting unacceptable conditions.
If people really want to honor veterans and soldiers they should sign up to be part of the Veterans Affairs Volunteer Service, not spend their time attacking others for their dissatisfaction. If people want to honor the country they should do so by striving to make it a better place, and a place where the rights and freedoms that are offered are offered equally to all. Then perhaps people would not have a reason to protest the country’s institutions in the first place.