I love this country. I love the ideals that this country stands for–I love that the USA is known as the Land of the Free and the Home of the brave. I love the idea that “all men are created equal” and the five founding ideals of democracy, liberty, rights, equality and opportunity.
But in recent years, I am at odds with much of what this country has become. I love the USA’s ideals but I can no longer swallow the disconnect between our stated ideals and what is practiced. In psychology, we call this “cognitive dissonance” which is when there is a difference between thoughts, attitudes and beliefs and actions. In daily life, it’s the person who says they believe in honesty and integrity and then lies to others.
I love what this country ideologically stands for and I despise what it has become. I despise it because I BELIEVE in those ideals and it grieves me to see what is happening. There is a saying that “your beliefs don’t make you a better person, your actions do” and that is also true for a nation.
The USA was founded on the principle of religious freedom, yet the republican nominee for President wants to ship out every member of an entire religious group. His constituents largely agree with that notion.
This country was founded for Freedom and yet was built by enslaving hundreds of thousands of fellow human beings. Many of the founding fathers of this country were slave owners–Thomas Jefferson, famous for saying “all men are created equal” had slaves and never freed them. The effects of racism, slavery and the view that minorities are less valuable human beings still carry on today in many ways such as institutionalized racism. Yet, good citizens of the USA still choose to turn a blind eye to that fact.
Recently, Colin Kaepernick took a stand for black lives by refusing to stand for the national anthem. As one would expect, this has resulted in major backlash from people wishing him harm, death and of course, the usual racial epitaphs that come when a person of color speaks an unpopular opinion (cause, you know, this is post-racial USA. Right.)
Kaepernick said “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color” and as a citizen of the USA, he is absolutely free to do so. The backlash I’ve seen is mostly about how “disrespectful” he has been to Veterans, Military and other groups who serve our country. I don’t see it that way.
The truth is, I think we should all be sitting with Kaepernick.
Not only do I support his point, I believe our country has gotten so far away from the ideals it was founded upon that it is high time for all of us to be upset and willing to take a stand by taking a seat.
I find it disrespectful that the military pays enlisted members $1,600 per month to serve to risk their life and limb. Some will say they enlist for the love of the country and while I can appreciate that, their love should not give the military the right to exploit them.
I find it disrespectful that Congress members get paid nearly $200k per year and can collect an almost full pension after just 5 years of service but consistently vote against the interests of the people they claim to serve.
I find it disrespectful that our government has allowed healthcare to become a source of profit to the healthcare companies and that they are doing it on the backs of the American people.
I find it disrespectful that Veteran’s coming back from combat with physical and mental illness do not get the care they desperately need and DESERVE and often end up homeless. When Veterans do attempt to get the care they need, they are often faced with incredible wait times, paucity of services and simply give up. TWENTY-TWO Veterans per day are committing suicide, largely because they don’t get the mental health care they need and deserve.
I find it disrespectful that our country allows teachers to get paid poorly to educate our children and continually cut funding for schools despite saying how important education is to our nation’s survival.
I find it disrespectful that obtaining higher education has become a financial life sentence to people who go to get an education because education institutions figured out how to make students a source of profit.
This country was built to be a safe haven for those seeking freedom and opportunity. It was supposed to be a place where people were equal and where lives were valued. Instead, our government in many ways has stopped being for the people, by the people and is now serving its own self-interest and the interests of those who can afford to buy their way to what they want.
Patriotism isn’t blind loyalty…in fact, it has been said that dissent is the highest form of patriotism. Anyone can just go along but it takes courage to take an unpopular stance. It grieves me that more people are upset about a man not standing for the National anthem then there are people upset about the myriad of issues present in this country today. We should all be upset and willing to take a stand (no matter the cost).
It is time that we as a nation recalibrate our collective moral compass–because if veterans dying on the street in the very land they fought to preserve is less”disrespectful” than a man not standing for the National anthem, there is a serious problem with what the nation truly values.