These days you can’t turn on the news without seeing someone waving the stars and stripes in your face.
They fly the flag proudly, often aggressively, but many Americans seem to have forgotten what the star-spangled banner stands for.
Waving a flag doesn’t make you a patriot.
It’s how you embody what the flag represents that makes you a patriot.
For most Americans, the Pledge of Allegiance is one of the first things we learn and memorise as children. And if you had to sum up those stanzas in one word, most people would agree, it’s freedom.
People fought wars and died for it. And we have outdated laws that say we can keep guns around just in case we have to fight for it again.
But is America still the home of the free? Is it really a place where liberty and justice can truly be enjoyed by all? Was it ever, really?
Your answer may depend on who you are and where you are.
White southerner? Yes. Black southerner? Hell no.
In fact, people of all ethnicities, races, and religions may never have felt less free in America then they do right now.
Everyone feels persecuted. Even white men. Especially white men.
Don’t believe me?
Look at the fear, worry, and concern that just about every Republican Senator regularly espouses on Fox News. And then look at the people who voted for them.
By 2060 it is predicted that there will be no viable ethnic (and possibly religious) majority in America. In other words, America is going to be a lot less white.
Perhaps then might be the time to change the colours of the flag to red, beige, and blue “for which it stands.”
There have been 27 versions of the American flag over the years. And just like the flag, the fabric of America is changing. And that body of old, white Senators who wrestle (often illegally) for political control can’t do anything to stop it.
In the meantime, let’s all try to remember what freedom and liberty and justice for all really means. Because when you wave the flag you’re not just waving it for yourself. You’re waving it for me. You’re waving it for every American.
Whether you mean to or not.
If you really want to help make America great, put down that flag and pick up some patriotism.
Because a true patriot understands that disagreements don’t have to divide us. And that our flag is a symbol of what unites us.
A true patriot does what’s right for the country and flies the flag proudly for “we the people.” All people, not just the ones we like.
A true patriot knows, trusts, believes and accepts that America is the home of the free. One nation, indivisible, where liberty and justice exist for all.
And if it ever feels like it doesn’t, then a true patriot fights to fix it.
In his book “A Promised Land,” Barack Obama writes, that the United States is a nation capable of doing what “no other nation has ever done” if we can only find a way to “actually live up to the meaning of our creed.”
I hope we can. But it’s going to take a lot more work than simply waving a flag.
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