I have watched with a bit of anger, as Americans have posted images and videos of themselves desecrating the flag of our country. I had debated on whether to say anything, but I just can't bite my tongue any longer. It is really ironic that the angst and frustration that they feel for our country is wrapped in that flag. They represent what being an American means, but they are too ignorant to realize it. I am completely opposed to disrespect for the flag of our country. I hope as I expand on my thinking, that you will see where I am coming from.
America is a form of Government unseen before it's time. Government was seen to be instituted by God. The rights of the people were seen as being granted permissions from the monarch. Further, society was divided among the commoner and the nobles. Some people were born in a higher status than others. The law treated these two types of people in completely different ways. Americans turned the tables on the divine right, the source of human rights, and the equality of all mankind, and turned the world upside down.
In America, basic human rights come not from the Government but from God. Each of the rights that we have as rational beings is a gift of our creator. People submit a portion of their God-given autonomy to government. We submit that autonomy for things that we would consider to be the common good.
It is true that America has not always lived up to the ideals of her founding. The fact that we recognize that is proof that there is truth to our ideals. Our hearts and minds know that all men are created equal. We know in the deepest parts of ourselves that we are born with rights, and they are not granted from the government. We feel when this country is drifted from it's ideal that something is not right. That is what is great about America. The flag stands as a standard or ideal. America may never actually reach the perfection of all that it holds dear. That doesn't mean we should trash the whole thing. It means we must search our souls and push her closer and closer each day to the promise of our ideals.
The Reformed tradition among Christians has a phrase that I think is very appropriate in this argument. Reformed and always reforming. The natural wickedness of men's hearts means that the minute we set one thing right, that there are countless others to address. America ought to never believe that she has arrived. America brought a revolutionary idea to human governance, and we must always be reevaluating ourselves and looking for our own hypocrisy. I assure you even in the "good ole days", America was a hypocrite. We know this because even our own hearts harbor two natures. We have the people that we wish we were, and the people we are each day. It is any wonder that government established by hypocrites would not also have hypocrisy?
Think about the Gettysburg Address. When faced with all the hypocrisy of slavery and the civil war, did Abraham Lincoln seek to throw it all out? No, he appealed to the country that we had always wished to be. He announced proudly that our country was dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal! He announced loudly that America was not living up to her promise. He exposed her hypocrisy and America is a greater country for it.
During the Civil Rights movement, America was once again confronted with her hypocrisy. The argument was never to establish a new world view. The argument was always that if this is how you truly believe, then how can you abide open racism?
Is America still failing? I am sure of it. When you feel angst or frustration when faced with her failings, don't tread on that beautiful flag. Everything that flag stands for is what has your heart in an uproar at injustice. Why would you disgrace the symbol of everything you are fighting for? Do you believe that all men are created equal? That is why old glory waves. Do you believe that men ought to be judged by the content of their character, and not the color of their skin? Old glory stands as a beacon to us. She urges us to greater and greater conformity to that and each and every other ideal of this country. So instead of disgracing that beautiful symbol, stand with men through the ages that have stood and shouted, we believe that all men are created equal, and we are not there yet!