JUST BECAUSE YOU CAN, DOESN’T MEAN YOU SHOULD

Colin Kaepernick has been all over the news. He’s the 49ers quarterback who refused to stand for the national anthem as a protest against racism in the United States.

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There definitely is far too much racism in the United States. Too many police incidents. I’m totally on board with Mr. Kaepernick’s right to express his opinion on the matter in any legal, non-violent way.

Our Constitution’s first amendment paints the right to freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of expression, freedom of the press with a broad brush. What it fails to point out (though it is implicit) is that everyone shares this freedom — on all sides of an issue.

So if other people hate how you express your opinion, they have the right to burn your jersey, refuse to go to games in which you are playing … and for that matter, dismiss you from your job.

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Freedom cuts all ways. That’s how it’s supposed to work. Mr. Kaepernick is absolutely free to express his point of view. So can everyone else.

Do I agree with one side or the other? I agree with both sides.

More to the point, Mr. Kaepernick should have thought longer and harder about how he would take his stand. Offending many people is not always a good way to make your point, no matter how valid your point may be. He should have considered the potential impact on his fans — and ultimately, on his career. Especially in view of the fact that he’s not playing well.

In sports, you can get away with murder if you’re playing well. If you’re not …

If your team is less than thrilled with your on-field performance, getting involved in a major controversy might tip them in the direction of not renewing your contract. That’s the painful reality. I’m sure he never thought expressing his legal, constitutionally guaranteed opinion would raise such a negative ruckus — or end up with him facing unemployment.

You could classify this incident as a cautionary tale.

Just because you can do something doesn’t mean it’s a good idea. Legal isn’t the same as well thought out. Was he justified in protesting racism in America? Sure. But maybe this wasn’t the best way to go about it.

PROUD TO BE AN AMERICAN?

Proud to be an American? Why?

Proud to be from Texas. Proud to live in the greatest city on earth (fill in the name of city). Proud to be white. Proud to be a man, but prouder to be a woman. Proud to be Irish, Black, Hispanic, Polish, Greek, Jewish, Chinese, Korean, Russian, Christian, Hindu, Muslim … whatever, it doesn’t matter.

What makes you proud of an accident of birth? Are you proud to be alive? Human? Proud you aren’t dead of disease, starvation, natural disaster, or war?

I am not proud to be an American. I am glad to be an American, happy that I am free to live in a beautiful place and have a home in this valley. I love the United States. I think it’s fundamentally a great nation which, if we stopped screwing around, would be an even greater one. But proud?

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I’m proud of things I’ve written, some things I’ve done, and ashamed of others. I’m proud of what I’ve earned. I’m not proud of the gifts I was given at birth, but I am deeply grateful that I was lucky enough to receive them.

I am proud of my country’s achievements, but ashamed and embarrassed by other things we’ve done. I believe our Constitution is one of the great legal documents. That we so often fail to live up to it saddens me, but at least we had founders who weren’t airheads or mass murderers, a burden other nations bear.

Pride implies you actively participated or contributed to whatever makes you proud. I don’t think being born qualifies. If you exist, you were born. Birth gets you get a ticket to the starting line. A chance to run the race. To breathe. After that, it’s up to you.

So I’m glad to be an American. I’m happy I was born here. Nothing was required of me. If Mom had been Mexican or Turkish? Then I’d be proud to be Turkish or  Mexican.

Does this attitude make me unpatriotic? I don’t think so, but you are welcome to think what you like. I believe love of country should be tempered by discrimination, the realization that nations, like people, don’t always do the right thing.

We aren’t special by reason of birth. Being proud of where you were born is meaningless.

Daily Prompt: To pledge allegiance and mean it

I promise to love my country and no one has to force me to do it. I will love the United States regardless, but like a child, I won’t always approve of her behavior.

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One of the things I love best about this nation is exactly that we are allowed to say we don’t care for what she is doing, what her leaders are doing. There’s no Hell to pay for it. No one comes in the middle of the night to arrest me for saying — or publishing — what I think. You can disagree with me. The government can disagree with me. Everyone can send me strongly worded messages opposing whatever it is they find objectionable in what I say, do or publish … but that’s as far as it goes. At least so far.

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We may not be nice to one another, but we don’t have concentration camps — not anymore — and we’ve managed to make some progress towards equality in the past 60 years. Okay, we aren’t there yet, but at least we seem to be trying to go in the right direction.

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Even when historically, we derail for a while, we equally historically find our way back to the good path, though it may take more time than we like. Ours may not be the best form of government on earth … but if it isn’t, please show me the better one? Because I haven’t found it. And I have looked. However imperfectly this government functions, there is none better. Maybe there are a few just as good — arguably, anyhow — but not superior.

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Does that make me a patriot? I think it does. I think the Constitution is a brilliant, if flawed, document that has shown itself to be flexible enough to grow with the changes in the world. If only mens’ minds were equally flexible.

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I believe we are strong enough to survive hard times, bad presidents, well-intentioned but wrong presidents, bad legislation, bad legislators, scandal, corruption and stupid wars. And still be a good people. If that isn’t patriotism, then I don’t know what is. I am not always proud of this country, but I always love it.

But the flag was still there

A busy day. Work to be done and lots of miles to be driven. It’s been a while since I was on a schedule and it was interesting how I fell back into it as if I’d never stopped. I commuted for so many years over so many miles, I go into travel mode and just drive.

The roads are worse than I remember. More potholes. Rougher surfaces. The bad economy shows itself in subtle and not so subtle ways. I had 62 miles to travel each way. I could have listened to music, but I didn’t I just thought. Mostly I thought about how much I would like to have a nicer car if I’m going to have to drive so many miles. A car with a gentler ride but which gets better mileage. What I really want is a very high-grade all-wheel-drive vehicle because I need something that is comfortable, gets reasonably good mileage, and will get me wherever I need to go regardless of the weather. I think it isn’t going to happen, but a gal can dream.

It was a long day and I think it went well, though I’ll believe it when we have a signed and sealed agreement. I found myself actually enjoying doing what I do so well … analyzing software and figuring out how I can make it easier to use. It may not sound thrilling to anyone but me, but there is something very satisfying about untangling words and clarifying concepts so that everyone can understand them. I think this is the first time I have realized exactly how satisfying it is. Interesting to make this discovery after all these many years.

I brought my camera with me because I take a camera with me everywhere I go. Considering that the entire trip was on high-speed limited access roads, there were not a lot of photo opportunities, so I stopped along the way home at a rest stop. It was just a standard highway facilities stop. McDonald’s. A coffee shop. Pizza. Odds and ends. A mini grocery. Rest rooms. ATM machines. And of course, the symbol of the American highway: gasoline pumps.

It was yet another challenge to a determined photographer!

The wind was up and the flags were flying. They were all snapping in the breeze, twisting around their poles and the sky was bright blue with puffy white clouds. I took a few pictures. It’s nice that we fly our flag everywhere so proudly. It’s an American thing. You don’t see flags as often in other countries. We are a very patriotic people.