Can an American look upon anything so moving? When I see the American flag, I am moved deeply; whether to tears of pride, or to a sense of belonging because it flies over my home. I am lucky enough to say, America is my home. My country, as much as it belongs to any of us. It is our common treasure. And yet, I feel separated from it somehow. I know, I’m not the only one. But, it’s hard to explain how that feels. Emptiness maybe. It’s hard to explain why I feel that sense of separation. God knows there are enough reasons to go around. My wife says its because I’m getting old, and while it’s true that I’m getting old, it somehow doesn’t feel like a complete answer. So, I did what you either love me or hate me for. I started asking questions. See, most folks don’t like to ask questions, and answers are, in my experience anyway, like a box of chocolates. And since most people tend to either agree or disagree thereby opening the door to friction, and conflict, .we live in a don’t ask don’t tell society, only being direct when we become angry. Sadly, the answers, the safe answers are on television. Or the radio, or the internet. But it doesn’t look as if media has held up to its obligations as an oracle. Quite the opposite in fact, as one interest group carves out its niche market from the citizenry, separating them from the herd, our citizenry becomes more and more indifferent to one another; unless hatred is part of the pasture we are assigned to. Our best hopes, our youth, and yes ourselves have been conditioned using psychological means of ideological proselytizing, using us and them media, derision, contempt, and outright hate to accomplish the purpose, which is division. Some guys just have more cattle than others. That means someone, somewhere is telling us what to think; not as a people, but as discrete cells of the people, most of whom are at war with just about everyone but their homies.
When I realized this, it struck me like a charging elephant; by belonging to a group of Americans at war, or purposely indifferent to everyone else, I had lost my sense of the union. What our forefathers fought for, all they had died for, was a union, within which all Americans could live. Could thrive . Once this realization had sunk in I was like Paul after he regained his sight. I had been blind to how divided we had become, and I had no one to blame. No one with whom to be angry. A citizenry as large as ours, with the trust we place in our government, secure in the promise of our constitution does as it is told. Even if it means turning on one another.
At first I was outraged! On the instant, I made a vow to make my flag whole again. To do my utmost to find a eay to nourish her with the strength of all citizens, for America needs her least as much as she needs her greatest. Where after all can a ship sail without a keel? And make no mistake, the least among us are like a ship’s keel, staying under the waterline, yes, but ultimately holding it together.
It turned out for me to be a matter of taking a really close look at other people, and asking myself who I might be if I had lived their lives. I can’t know of course, but doing so made me tolerant. Until you prove to be a menace, in which case I shoot you in the face. Really.
I find in my tolerance a greater sense of unity with those who are my American brothers and sisters. Those who would derisively sing Kumbaya at this point you’ve got a lot longer to go than you think. What the hell would be wrong with us just being Christian’s? Or at least, failing in that, living according to that vastly awesome algorithm that is the legacy of him whom we call Jesus?
My liberal brothers and sisters, and my conservative sisters and brothers, I beseech you, find it in your hearts to love one another. What awesome skies our flag would fly over then, giving us the blessing of having left our children that thrill of gazing at their flag with pride, shared union, and a sense of home. Let me make it plain. no unity, no union. No union, no protection. No protection, well, we all ought to think on that one.
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