I am a patriot. I proudly salute the flag, and my eyes still get teary when Lee Greenwood sings "God Bless the USA." I remember becoming emotional many years ago, when my tenth grade class ignored the pledge of allegiance at the beginning of the day. They weren't particularly making a statement, they just didn't care enough to stand up.
I told them that it was their right not to pledge, but in my class they would stand to show respect. I had taught them for several weeks, and as a whole they seemed to respect nothing. I cared for these kids and feared that if they didn't learn to connect with the important things and people in their lives, they would end up alone. I remember tearfully saying, "If you don't respect your country, what will you respect?"
My emotions connected with them, and like an episode of Welcome Back Kotter, my "Sweathogs" stood and pledged every day thereafter. The wonderful thing about this country that I so intensely wanted these sophomores to respect though, is that the flag they saluted stands for their right to refuse to salute. Many men and women have sacrificed their lives so we can make that choice without repercussions.
Unfortunately, there are people today who, in the guise of patriotism, are attempting to take away these rights that others died for through the years. When Colin Kaepernik refused to stand for the national anthem, he was exercising his freedom to peacefully protest. Whether one believes in his cause or not, we should all believe in his right to peacefully make his feelings known. Rather than blackballing him from the sport he excelled in, we should hold him up as a role model to young people who need to find a non-violent way to express their frustrations.
I disagree with some of what Kaepernik says, and find his socks displaying pigs with police hats disrespectful. If he were my son, I would praise him for choosing a non-violent way to display his anger, then I would explain that while some police officers are bigoted, violent and should be suspended, the majority of them put their lives on the line every day to protect and defend all of us. I would try to show him how hurtful his actions are to those that do deserve our respect and ask him to be very sure of who he is hurting with his words and actions, but I would stand up for his right to peacefully protest. James Baldwin said it best when he stated, “I love America more than any other country in the world and, exactly for this reason, I insist on the right to criticize her perpetually.”
My real distaste would be saved for those who are staining our country's flag and image around the world by violently trying to quiet those who peacefully protest without trying to incite anger. Those who believe that they are "real Americans" and must protect their country from immigrants and protesters, definitely need a tutorial on what it means to be an American.
J.D. Trafford introduces us to his latest character, African-American attorney Justin Glass, in his latest offer, Little Boy Lost. Glass is an example of an American to look up to, as he takes the case brought to him by an eight year old searching for her brother. The book is a mixture of detective work, family life, politics and the legal world, and I highly recommend it.
Another book I read this week, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life by Mark Manson, was written by a young man with a lot to say. His belief in making the best of what we have (enjoy lemons rather than making lemonade out of them) makes for some very interesting "self-help" reading.
As always, complete reviews on both books follow this blog.