Lately, there have been lots of words written and spoken about being an American. What makes you an American, what your responsibility is as an American, how to act like an American. You’ve heard the remarks; you’ve seen the headlines.
Not putting your hand over your heart when the star spangled banner is played, not standing and facing the American flag when said song is played, and folks getting all upset because these people aren’t acting like the “real” Americans want them to act. These “real” Americans write all sorts of vile comments telling the non-flag wavers, non-star spangled banner singers to leave the Country. Like they have any right to tell them anything.
The thing is – being an American is having the freedom to do all of those things. Just as these “real” patriots have the right to spew their beliefs, those folks not standing or singing or taking off their hats or putting their hand over their heart – they have the freedom to do so – it’s their right under the Constitution. You may not like it, but this is what America is.
Being an American isn’t just about waving a flag and singing a song. Being an American is about respecting everyone’s right to not wave the flag or not sing a song. It doesn’t make them any less of an American, it just means they aren’t what you expect an American to be. And therein lies the rub.
It’s not about who they are – it’s about who you are. We love to tote the Freedoms: Religion, Speech, Expression, Guns. And we love to love to speak of our rights: to vote, to protest, to own homes and watch whatever we choose on television, to wear whatever clothes make us comfortable, to listen to whatever music soothes our souls, and on and on and on.
But, as soon as someone does something we would never think of doing – then they aren’t an American, and they need to leave the United States. Do you not see how ridiculous that is? Everyone born in the United States of America has the same right and freedoms, everyone. Sadly, not everyone has the same opportunities, but they do have their Creator-given, unalienable rights. (Read the preamble to the Declaration of Independence)
Let’s stop worrying about the things that don’t matter. Just because someone might not wave a flag doesn’t mean they don’t love their country. And just because they don’t sing a song doesn’t mean they aren’t a patriot. It may simply mean that they aren’t happy with the way things are in their country at this point in time. It may simply mean that we are all supposed to have the same rights under that flag, and it’s obvious that to them we all don’t, and this not standing or singing or whatever – is their form of protest. It’s not about you – the world does not revolve around you and your beliefs. The United States of America is filled with all genders, all religions, all political parties, all matter of people from sea to shining sea. The one thing we all share is our individual freedom. It’s the most important thing – this freedom.
Not waving a flag or singing a song is the least of the problems we face as Americans at this point in time. Donald Trump has unleashed the – build the wall – lock her up – ship them out – hatred that we now must deal with. These gun-toting, flag waving, hate-mongering fools who want to “Make American Great Again” who have forgotten that America is not just about the white men-folk.
As is their right to voice their “make America great again” opinion, it is my right, No, it is my duty, to voice my “America is already pretty great” opinion in opposition to their nationalistic point of view. America is an inclusive nation, not a nation of wall builders. Do things need to be changed and tweaked and started anew? Of course, but ostracizing millions of people is most certainly not the answer.
It all starts with me and with you. I may not like someone turning their back on the flag, but I stop myself and think that I don’t know their story. I don’t know from where they came and why they feel so apart from everyone. Perhaps if I knew, I’d understand – so I don’t judge, and I certainly don’t tell them to leave.
I’m a white woman raised in a small rural town in the 1950’s that didn’t allow blacks into town after a certain hour – How can I possibly understand the life’s journey of a black woman born and raised outside of those town limits? I can’t – so I don’t even pretend that I do. It’s not for me to judge, it’s for me to understand that her version of freedom may be different than mine, and to understand that she may not have the same affection or respect for our nation’s history as I might.
I’m also a lesbian, so I do know a little of how it feels to be judged and set apart from the rest of society. I’ve not been served in restaurants, I’ve been ostracized from family, I’ve been called every derogatory name one can think of; And still, I believe in the goodness of America.
It’s about respect and understanding. It’s about inclusion not exclusion. It’s about freedom – for everyone. It’s about the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution and ALL its Amendments representing every single American citizen. You can’t pick and choose who gets what – every citizen is entitled to every single right, every single amendment, every single Freedom.
Waving the flag doesn’t make you an American – respecting the right of someone to not wave the flag – now that – that makes you an American.