Our country was founded by people who rebelled against injustices from a tyrannical oppressive system, and fought for democratic principles and human rights. Then they proceeded to tear apart foreign families, ship them here in horrific conditions, and force them into autocratic, suppressive, and brutal slavery systems. Today, people who peacefully protest some of our current unjust (and often brutal) systems are demonized for giving voice to their constitutionally supported rights. (Do not confuse constitutionally protected peaceful protest with lawless violence and destruction.) Our Pledge of Allegiance ends with “Indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for all.” Liberty and justice for whom? Only certain skin colors and incomes? Our national anthem ends with “the Land of the free, and the home of the brave.” Who is free? Who are the brave ones now? Taking a knee is a metaphorical rising up, to help us all take another look at what we say, and how as a nation we are often not living up to our words. I respect our country’s founding principles, and our veterans who fought for them. Respect and patriotism, however, must include supporting the protests of our citizens who have not benefited from those “inalienable” rights and indeed have been subjected to oppression and brutality. Patriotism is not either/or, it’s both/and. “Red brown yellow black and white, all are precious in His sight …” Remember that song from childhood? Remember the Golden Rule? Can we live up to the principles that will make our country respectable again?
Jo Ann McNiel
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