Friday, December 02, 2016

Burning The Flag

The American flag is one of the many symbols America uses to identify itself. It's steeped in tradition and even has it's own little fairy tale of a story about its origins. Americans love the story of Betsy Ross’s making the nation’s first official flag. For 150 years now, the tale of the plucky, practical Philadelphia seamstress has occupied a comfortable niche in the country’s patriotic pantheon alongside the stories of Paul Revere, the Minutemen, and Valley Forge.
Ross is so beloved and so deeply embedded in the nation’s memory that somehow it seems unpatriotic, if not vaguely treasonous, to cast doubt on her story. The truth, however, is that nobody can prove that Betsy Ross had anything to do with the first official Stars and Stripes.  There's truly no good historical evidence that she had anything to do with its creation, but we like believing it anyway.  Even the Betsy Ross House, now a Philadelphia museum honoring her, promotes her story but encourages visitors to decide whether it’s “historical fact or well-loved fiction.”
But at it's core, the flag is just a symbol. That's all, just a symbol; a thing. It's not living. It means nothing, really. So if someone wants to exercise their 1st Amendment right and set fire to the flag and burn it, so what? It doesn't hurt anyone.

We've become a nation so bothered by the actions of others that we are neglecting to check ourselves and be accountable for our own actions; a nation of Christians who simply refuse to follow the teachings of Jesus Christ; a nation of people who would rather record the wrongdoings of a person rather than step in to stop them or, better yet, engage them in conversation as to why they are acting the way they are. And why? Because despite screaming about how much we care, we really don't. We don't really care. We don't care if our actions affect another person. We don't care if inaction hurts another person. We don't care if our beliefs infringe on the beliefs of another person. We don't care. As long as we get ours, we don't care.

We elected a man to the presidency who thinks it's okay to sexually molest women and young girls.

We don't care.

Hate crimes in New York City have risen by 31% compared to this same time in 2015.

We don't care.

There's been an outbreak of about 900 hate crimes since the election in November.

We don't care.

Our country has no gun laws, save for the American right to bear arms, bear meaning we have a right to keep them and carry them, but not necessarily a right to purchase them; an amendment that was written at a time when the country had to call on private citizens to defend itself against invaders. Not the case anymore. Anyone can buy a gun. Anyone can use a gun. Anyone can be shot anywhere at anytime, including children in schools and students at universities and people simply going about their daily lives.

We don't care.

Our police officers are killing - KILLING - Americans. They're not maiming them to prevent running away, not shooting them in the arms to disarm them - killing them. It seems an officer's first response is to kill someone, not slow them or stop them in order to understand motives and actions. We will never have answers to the thousands of questions we have when something goes wrong.

We don't care.

A Texas-based company wants to run a natural gas pipeline through Sioux territory in North Dakota that could contaminate their drinking water as well as traverse their sacred burial grounds, and despite environmentalists' claims that the pipeline could ruin the ecosystem.

We don't care.

People in Flint, Michigan haven't had clean drinking water since April 2014. It's so bad, it's called a crisis by FEMA and the Department of Homeland Security. But there's no outrage about it. Why? Because...

We don't care.

So I don't understand all the hullabaloo about setting fire to a piece of material. It means nothing. When people are suffering and grieving and unable to live their lives and we don't do anything about that, why on earth would we rise up because someone burns a flag that has come to represent division, hatred, and intolerance? I love my country and I am happy, thankful, and proud to be an American. And I will fight with whatever tools I have to help get it back on track. But as far as burning the American flag goes...

I don't care.