About 25 miles up the road from the house that built me, the annual 4th of July Willits Frontier Days happened this weekend, albeit with no livestock, cowboys or cowgirls, not a single beer sold, and no one in the stands. Flags flew anyway to make a point:
We’re still here. America’s not going down.
I hope they’re right.
Folks, we’re rending the fabric of our nation. Not in insisting that black or blue lives matter, but in the way we’re expressing our anger and frustration. By insisting one side must lose so the other can win. Our addiction to zero sum outcomes may have already propelled us past a point where we can mend the cloth. I hope not.
People revolt when they aren’t heard. They seize control and oppress the dissenters. Then, the former oppressors become the oppressed who suffer until they rise up and the cycle starts over. We need to start listening again.
I cried when I watched the flags fly before empty stands. Those flags stand for a united nation under God. Those flags stand for freedom for all men and women – not just those who worship the way we do or look like us – but all men. While we watch Facebook feeds of brawls in the street and boarded up government buildings, we’ve lost sight of the hope of America: the flag and what it symbolizes.
I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America. And to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
To keep our nation requires that we affirm every line in that pledge, not just parts. That we pledge to keep the founders’ vision alive. That we embrace our political system – our republic – as it was designed, not as we want to remake it. That we stop seeing ourselves as individual people groups and cultures living in the same land and join together as one people – one American people. That we pledge not to factionalize, and that every man, woman, and child has equal rights and access to both liberty and justice.
Fixing America? Maybe it’s simpler than I thought.Those who burn our flag seem to be pointing out that what we say – what we pledge – is not actually what we do. And maybe they’re right.
Here’s the recipe, folks. Be just as much about being unified Americans and protecting those interests as we are about our own interests. Be about contending for black, brown, red, yellow, and white lives equally. Where inequities exist, correct them. Be as committed to our nation as we are to personal liberty.
That’s what the flag stands for. These flags and empty stands at Frontier Days can teach us a lot if we listen. The flag and all it represents hasn’t changed its message or left the arena. For whatever reason, we have.