Thursday, September 15, 2016

Freedom, Football and Duck Dynasty

I love my country. I am proud of my country and the men and women who serve her.

I love that we stand for something that is revolutionary. I sometimes wonder if Americans have forgotten that we are revolutionary. 

Less than 250 years ago, there was no country in the entire world where any kind of real freedom could be found in the way we have freedom. There had rarely been any country in written history that has the kind of freedom found in the United States of America, for that matter.

I mean, we didn't just TALK about it. We wrote a DECLARATION declaring our freedom and inalienable rights, people. We put it in freakin' writing and made it the law! We said, "Hell no, we're not gonna take it anymore" and we meant it and that gives me goosebumps.

And you know what? Other countries followed suit. Obviously, not all of them, but lots and lots of them saw that it was good to let people be free and forge their own destiny without interference from...well, really anyone with the exception of laws that protect people and their stuff. How awesome are we?!?!

And the last few years there's been this really disturbing trend. There's been this trend that if people say something you don't like or agree with that doesn't harm you physically or damage your stuff we want a different kind of revolution. We want to string them up or force them out of their job or scream at them to, "GET OUT!".  

All because they don't view things a certain way or share a certain ideology or view life in the way other people think it should be lived or agree about what true freedom actually means. 

There's nothing American about that.

So, let's talk about two instances that I can think of right off hand that pissed a LOT of people off. 

First, we'll start with Phil Robertson. That Duck Dynasty guy. I'm pretty sure he's the head guy, but I don't watch the show, so that's an assumption and if it's wrong I'd still like to stay, mmmkay?

He was asked point blank how he felt about homosexuality. He wasn't pulling a Westboro (we all crazy up in here) Baptist Gathering Place. (I refuse to call them a church.) He wasn't standing on the street harassing good people or standing at a soldier's funeral chanting things I will not repeat here or anywhere else in this lifetime. He was ASKED. He answered.

But, here's the thing: People almost immediately began the now popular chant of "Yes, you may have freedom of speech but you don't have freedom from the consequences of that speech." 

Do you know how Orwellian that is? Do you understand that by threatening someone with loss of job and livelihood if they say things you don't like or agree with, you ARE damaging their freedom to speak their truth. That is a threat to damage them if they're speech doesn't agree with your truth or ideology. The very foundation of freedom of speech is understanding that others may disagree with everything you hold fundamentally true and, as long as it does not harm your life, your liberty or pursuit of happiness, they are FREE to say it and expect no repercussions like loss of job, threat of bodily harm and harassment. 

We're talking about someone who was asked a direct question about their private beliefs. He answered. That's it. 

 Did I agree with him? Doesn't matter because that's not the point.

Now, we have Colin Kaepernick. If you've been under a rock and don't know who he is, he's a back-up quarterback for the San Franscisco 49'ers and he has refused to stand for the National Anthem as it's played before each NFL game begins.

As a black man, he is making a statement about the abuses and  lack of equality toward African Americans in our country. He is making a statement that African American citizens in our country are not afforded the same equality as white Americans in our country.  

We are not talking about a man who threatened other people or harmed anyone or mocked anyone. We're talking about a guy who chose not to stand or place his hand over his heart during the National Anthem because he feels like his Nation isn't fulfilling its truest destiny of freedom and life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for ALL. 

Do I agree with him? Doesn't matter because that's not the point. 

Here's the REAL point: We are losing ourselves and what makes us so revolutionary!!!  We are defiling the very thing that so many actually died to protect! 

We are the country who says you can have your religious beliefs, no matter what those beliefs happen to be or stand for, so long as you are not harming another human being physically or harming their personal belongings and private property. 

It means that even if someone stands on the flag or refuses to stand for the Anthem, they have that RIGHT. They have that right without someone screaming for them to be fired or harmed.

Not just "whether you like it or not", but ESPECIALLY if you like it or not. The kind of freedom we have in this country is revolutionary BECAUSE of that, not in spite of it. 

My fellow Americans, we so often mourn the loss of life that our freedom has cost so many. We understand so deeply what freedom has cost. It is part of who we are! It is part of our very definition as Americans. FREEDOM IS NOT FREE!

It not only costs our beloved soldiers their lives. It costs us our pride and our right to be right and our anger. It costs the citizens of a free country the belief that their opinions are the ONLY opinions.

So, who are we if we, the very country who revolutionized freedom, begin to pick and choose how someone exercises their freedom?!  Who do we become if freedom is only true if we all agree on the same things in the same way?

Again, I am NOT talking about people who rape and pillage and murder and harm other people...we are talking about words and actions that express someones privately held beliefs and truths. Not bullying. Not standing on the streets screaming at people to cause damage, but privately held beliefs and feelings and hurts and truths, even if those feelings are publicly known. 

For me, I see other countries - countries who curb speech to the point that you can go to jail for speaking out against the reigning powers - and I KNOW that I do not want to begin the walk down that slope. It is slippery with self-righteousness and hate and harm and cruelty. It is lacking in compassion and kindness and hope and renewal and FREEDOM. 

 I do not want to walk a path that shoves someones truth back down their throat because they do not believe or feel as I feel or believe. I do not want to walk that path because one day someone is going to disagree with me. Some of you are disagreeing with me RIGHT NOW.

We are peeking over the edge of that slope. Can't you feel it?  Can't you feel the churning, vile cauldron of hate and descension in our beautiful land of the free because we will NOT allow someone else to be free to express themselves because they have the audacity to NOT agree with us or they express themselves in a way that YOU wouldn't express yourself? 

I feel it. The media feeds on it like sharks in a bloody pond. Social media's cup is overflowing with it. 

But, it's one on one, face to face, where we must make our stand. We must stand together and hear one another. 

You want to make America great again? Really? You want unity? Really? 

Then UNITE. Allow others to speak their truth without being offended. The very people who mock others offense are very often the ones who become so viciously vocal when they are offended, by the way. Surely you see it.

You are not harmed if the Duck Dynasty man holds a religious belief that you do not hold. You aren't. Keep living. Keep loving. Keep being kind. Be angry if he is NOT allowed to hold a religious belief so long as he doesn't harm others with that belief.

You are not harmed if a black man doesn't stand when the National Anthem is played. You aren't. Keep standing. Keep placing your hand over your heart. Keep loving. Keep being kind. Be angry if he is NOT allowed to sit, so long as he doesn't demand others do the same.


That is who we say we are when we go to other countries and fight for people who can't fight for themselves. That is who we say we are when we go to other countries that are killing people to oppress their privately held beliefs and feelings. 

I want to BE what revolutionizes Americans and makes us unique among all the countries on Earth. I want to LOVE those who don't agree with me. I want to HEAR them. I want freedom.

I want those things BECAUSE I love my country and everything it stands for. 

I believe in America and every word on the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States of America. I believe that freedom is worth dying for, even if it means I have to listen to and support someone who practices their freedom and rights differently than I practice mine.

I can only believe in freedom if I believe it for everyone. 

Maybe I can only truly believe in freedom if it means I must support someone's freedom when everything they stand for is diametrically opposed to everything that I stand for.

Over here still believing in inalienable rights,


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