“If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.-Matthew 18: 15-17
The above bible passage points to the logical common sense manner and venue by which grievances can be settled. It shows both respect for the individual and authority, and acknowledges the rightful roles of each. A number of NFL players over some recent months have escalated a cause by outwardly expressing their grievance in not affording the American Flag its accustomed respect at the start of NFL football games in the stadiums hosting those events.
NFL players have staged protests during the playing of the National Anthem before football games by kneeling rather than standing. For all appearances this action seems to show disrespect toward the Flag and Anthem. The same Flag and the Anthem that the American people hold as sacred. In our country that perceives so little sacredness in anything today, the Flag is the glue that holds this fragile nation together. That glue is composed of the broken bodies and spilled blood of the men and women who understand sacredness, because they live sacrifice. It is that sacrifice that guards the right of all Americans to freely protest. That is why the Flag should always be held in high regard and be separated from any display other than one of reverence.
The freedoms we enjoy in this country should not be used to hold others hostage nor ourselves. We were freed from tyranny to be free for something better. Fans too are free to patronize or not any event that does not accord the flag its due respect. We are the land of the free because of the brave. Advocacy for causes should be pursued through proper channels and in proper venues. In choosing appropriate channels and venues which pertain to the particular parties involved in grievance would also help to limit alienation toward said causes.
During the War of 1812, Francis Scott Key, from a ship off shore, witnessed the endless horrific night-long bombing on Fort McHenry by the British Royal Navy. From his position he had no way to know what the outcome had been. As he woke up in the morning and his eyes witnessed the American flag soaring high in the air on top of the fort, he could not contain his happiness at the sight of American triumph and wrote, originally as a poem, The Star Spangled Banner – referring to the American flag he saw – on the back side of a letter he found in his pocket.
No institution by man is infallible. As any structure with age and lack of restorative attention loses its integrity, so too does a country. A house in time needs replacement of its roof, repair of worn walls and added support to its foundation. One may not relish the run-down condition of one’s home; yet one loves it enough to repair it. Defects in a home do not warrant its destruction. Nor should the fate of a country so be determined.
The Flag is not a symbol of what is wrong with our country, but rather is a symbol of what is right with it. What was witnessed at the Battle of Fort McHenry, can also be witnessed in any disaster, great challenge or atrocity that has and can befall our nation. At these times we see Americans stand up and step forward. For when things are at their worst we are at our best. Throughout past and recent events in history we have become accustomed to the courage and sacrifice that is the American spirit; those members of the police and fire departments who rush at the threat rather than from it; from military who risk life and limb to preserve the security, integrity and identity that is America, whether at home or abroad; and individual citizens who do not hesitate, despite the inherent danger to self, to come to the aid of a fellow countryman. This is what the Flag stands for. Despite our differences-and they are deep and many-when the chips are down we come together, no matter what the cost may be.
As history has shown, no country lasts, nor Flag waves, forever. It will not be the aggression alone of some foreign enemy that brings about the downfall of a country but instead the indifference of countrymen and corruption of its leaders. For power, not respected and left unbridled, corrupts the best of altruistic intentions. That sad day of reckoning will be realized when the flag lowered at dusk does not rise with the next dawn. May we pray that “Old Glory” will be the exception and not the rule to such a tragic end as history pens its final page.
Love is made manifest in many ways. Love of country is but one, which is only preceded by love of neighbor and that of God; Who is love itself. Yet love of country is an important one, for a nation fashioned on a foundation of love secures the way for other phases of love. No one truly understands the importance of country except in the context of love. For country, as love itself, is never more appreciated than when it has been lost.