Remember chanting the Pledge of Allegiance when you were a kid in grade school? We recited it every morning and it meant almost nothing to children who had no idea what liberty and justice really meant. Once committed to memory, it was just a ritual, like the Lord’s Prayer. Then there came a time when the words did stir something inside me when my history books told of my country making huge sacrifices to save the Jews from Hitler. And then, I read outside of the prescribed curriculum (thanks to a good teacher’s suggested reading list) and learned how, like the slavery issue in the Civil War, the welfare of the Jews was quite secondary to the true motives of this country’s participation and initial lack thereof.
So, having disabused myself of the notion that my country was the knight in shining armor, the cowboy in the white hat, the purveyor of liberty and justice for all, I read voraciously and indiscriminately, hoping to figure out how and why people sought great wealth and power, sometimes beyond all comprehension, and why they didn’t use those things for the good of their “neighbors”.
I wish I could tell you that I now have it dialed in. I read once that “No man is a villain in his own eyes”. If that is true, then the most ignorant, evil, self-absorbed person, comes from a place where his ends justify the means. And maybe the less introspective a person is, the easier it is to love oneself to the exclusion of others.
But I digress, as is the wont of bloggers like myself and cupcakecache (you must read her “Why We Read Bloggers”). What I started out to write is my discomfort over how the symbol of freedom and equality under the law (that would be the American flag) has been hijacked by the militant supporters of a regime who don’t recognize injustice and suppression of freedom when they see it. Pugnacious, white men drive down city streets with the symbol of freedom flapping from their behemoth pick-up trucks; bearded, pot-bellied white men roar down the highway, flags whipping on their “Big Twin” Harley; bumper stickers proudly display the flag along with slogans that bristle with hate.
I’m sad and fearful when I see what once meant pride in a civilized form of government, now is used to instill fear in people who think “peace, love, and understanding” are worthwhile objectives; when it’s purpose has been twisted from making a ten-year-old’s heart swell with pride to making a person of color cringe; when it bolsters the dubious courage of a bully.
Well, I’m just sick of it. I want to restore honor and dignity to not just the symbol of our country, but to the integrity of every citizen who believes in the principles of equality. To that end, I’m going to encourage everyone who believes that this country can be great without discrimination, hate, and with equal rights under the law, to display the flag tomorrow with the sentiments it should evoke in fair-minded folks.
I heard a pastor say, “Love looks like justice in public.” And that’s what the teachings of Christ mean by, “Love your enemies”. Be just in your dealings with every living thing…especially the powerless.