Be Better

The flag of the United States of America, and what it stands for has become the center of a controversy.  Colin Kaepernick decided to sit through the national anthem in protest to the “oppression of people of color”.  Since then, many people have used the flag, and those who have worn it, to prove some kind of point.  None of it makes any sense to me and here is why.American Flag

I wore that flag, for 10 amazing years.  While wearing that flag, I saw the worst that mankind has to offer and the best.  I saw men do the unthinkable, and men not think before doing the heroic.  What I did not see in those 10 years, was what the flag meant.  I do now.  It may mean something different to you, but to me this is it.

The flag represents, not just a geographical territory on a map, it represents an idea a promise.  A promise, that one day humans will realize their full potential.  A promise, that one day we can truly be united as one human race.  A promise that we will be better.  I have seen that day, I have seen it in Iraq, and I have seen it at home.  I have not seen it last.  It is true that there is an oppression this great country of ours.  Not of minorities, not of the poor, but of the mind.

People are so quick to put everybody else in that nice little box in their own mind, that they don’t allow themselves to fully see anything other than what they want.  Racists will always see skin color.  Bigots will only hear the other side, but never listen or understand.  Zealots will always put their religion before sense.  All sides have a tendency to go to their respective corners whenever a controversy strikes.  And many are caught in the crossfire.

Tomi Lahren lashed out at Colin Kaepernick, for disrespecting the flag that men and women have bled and died for.  Others have done the same.  Some have rushed to Kaepernick’s defense, drawing on verses of the national anthem that haven’t been heard in, god only knows how long, claiming racism.  Lauren draws on her family in the military to say what a scumbag Kaepernick is.  While I was pretty harsh on Kaepernick for doing what he did see: Because Racism, I understand that it was his right to do so and respect that.  It is also Lahren’s right to respond how she sees fit.  I don’t really have a problem with either exercising their right.  I do, however, have a problem.

The men and women who serve in our military should not be used to prove a point.  We are not the sacred cow that we are treated like.  We are human beings, some may agree with Kaepernick and others with Lauren.  We are not all like-minded individuals, we do not feel that every time some professional athlete gets paid millions while we are not is a slight against us.  We do not feel like an athlete sitting through the national anthem is a slight against us.  After all, and every military person can attest to this, I have seen men and women run indoors so that they would not have to render the salute during Retreat.

Back to the macro, the military is not a failsafe for an argument.  It is comprised of men and women who have all sorts of political views, social views, sexual orientations and so on.  We are not a hive mind and we are fallible.  All of us aren’t even prepared to die, but those of us who are, are not prepared to die for a flag.  At least not me, I was never prepared to die for a flag, but I was prepared to give my life, so that the promise the flag represents, to me, may one day be fulfilled and nobody will have to “wear” the flag anymore.

If Kaepernick thinks that the flag represents oppression, that is fine, it is his right to do so.  I think him a fool, but I won’t stop him from being that fool.  Iff Lauren, and others, want to use the military as their proverbial “ace in the hole” every time something like this happens, again I think them fools, but defend their right to be those fools.  The military is not the proverbial “ace in the hole”, it will not win the argument.  Especially when at some point, in most military members careers, they too ran to not render the proper respect for the flag as prescribed for them in their respective branches regulations.  They too have “disrespected” the flag.  What Kaepernick did, was nothing more than what many service members have done, the difference is that he is high-profile and most service members are not.  What Kaepernick hasn’t done is risked anything for his “stance”.

His money this year was guaranteed to the tune of $12 million.  He didn’t risk his career, that was pretty much already over.  His financial future is not in jeopardy, unless he really fails at life.  He risked nothing other than maybe some public backlash.  The men and women in the armed forces, risk their lives, day in and out.  Their futures are not secure, nor are they guaranteed.  I do hold them in higher regard than any professional athlete, and because I do I will not use them to try to win an argument.  If I ever have in the past, I sincerely apologize as I am, like the promise I believe the flag represents, trying to be better.

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