Let’s face it. The United State of America is probably as un-united as it’s been since the Civil War. I don’t think there was even as much tension during the Civil Rights Movement. There certainly wasn’t as much disrespect during the Civil Rights Movement. Okay, those sentences are completely opinion based because I obviously was not there for that movement, but from what I know… I’d rather have that all over again than this.
Anyone who has social media or watches the news knows exactly what I’m talking about. Ever since the incidents in Ferguson, this country has been very near to another civil war and all over the same reasons (with some new ones dabbled in there as well). It’s sad to think that 150 years later we’re still struggling with racism and inequality. But it goes deeper than just even that. Or at least deeper than the things you think of when I say “racism” or “inequality”.
As a white woman who grew up in a middle class family, I know I haven’t experienced the same things as a black woman from a middle class family or even a Hispanic woman from a middle class family. But nor have they experienced the same things I have. Now, I’m not saying my hardships are any worse than theirs, just that they’re different. Everyone’s story is different. That’s what makes us individuals. Trying to fix everyone’s story is a lost cause. That’s like taking Advil because you broke three of your fingers. Even just fixing one finger isn’t going to solve anything.
I get that people are upset with the current establishment. I get that people are tired of being oppressed. But I can promise you that I wasn’t afforded more opportunities in life to better my situation because I’m white or because I’m a woman. On the flip side, nor was I denied opportunities for those same reasons. Every opportunity I’ve ever had in life, I made for myself. College? I worked my ass off to get scholarships and loans and I’m paying for the latter (as are my parents who helped me along the way). Career? When I worked retail, I poured everything I had in me into my job to be the best at it and to get where I wanted to be. Now I’m in the auto industry and I can tell you that it’s even more cut throat and nasty but the same rules apply. If I want something, I go for it and I don’t take “no” for an answer.
In my life, I never threw a fit and expected things from anyone. I never expected special treatment because I’m white or because I’m female. The latter actually works against me in some regards, but I don’t sit there and bitch about how it should be equal. Should it? Hell yes it should but it’s not so you know what, I’m going to prove to you that even though it’s not equal, I can still pull my weight and exceed your expectations of me. Why? Because I don’t take hand outs.
I should note that in no way am I implying that everyone who opposes my opinions on this doesn’t work hard or takes hand outs. A number do, but they don’t represent everyone. Just like the few bad police officers who have fallen into the media spotlight don’t represent police officers as a whole. If stereotyping a person of color who listens to hip hop is bad, then so is stereotyping someone who puts on a blue uniform and swears to protect his/her cities/counties/states citizens. Equality is a two way street. If you demand respect, you sure as shit have to give it back.
Which brings me to the entire point of this entry. Respect.
There’s a hashtag floating around the web that simply states #FuckYourFlag. It’s generally used by people taking pictures of themselves stepping on or burning an American flag in protest to what the flag represents. There are debates over the legality of doing such a thing. There is a Flag Code that states the unlawfulness of the desecration of the US Flag, but in banning that you’re directly restricting peoples freedom of speech. It’s the first amendment in the US Constitution. It’s number one in the US Bill of Rights… one of the few things we cannot alter even with other laws.
The Flag Code is just that… a code. It’s kinda like that scene from Pirates of the Caribbean when Elizabeth Swan invokes parlay under the Code of the Brethren. The pirates follow the code but then later in the movie when she brings it up again, Captain Jack says “And thirdly, the code is more what you’d call “guidelines” than actual rules.” Cheesy as it may be to quote a movie… that’s all a code is. You can’t take anyone to court over breaking Flag Code.
So in stepping on and/or burning the US Flag, you’re exercising your freedom of speech, which is fine and dandy. I’m all for using your constitutional rights until you’re blue in the face. Until, of course, you spit on the memory of my grandfather who fought in WWII so that you wouldn’t lose that right.
The US Flag represents more than I think people realize or really think about. Let’s take it back to elementary school and break it down for everyone. I hate citing Wikipedia, but they describe what makes up the flag, literally, better than I could
The national flag of the United States of America, often referred to as the American flag or The Greatest Flag Ever Flown, consists of thirteen equal horizontal stripes of red (top and bottom) alternating with white, with a blue rectangle in the canton (referred to specifically as the “union”) bearing fifty small, white, five-pointed stars arranged in nine offset horizontal rows of six stars (top and bottom) alternating with rows of five stars. The 50 stars on the flag represent the 50 states of the United States of America and the 13 stripes represent the thirteen British colonies that declared independence from the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and became the first states in the Union. Nicknames for the flag include the “Stars and Stripes”, “Old Glory“, and “The Star-Spangled Banner“.
Now, it doesn’t mention the reason for the color choices so I’ll go over that separately. White signifies purity and innocence. We all come into this world completely pure and completely innocent. We all start the same. It’s the choices we make from then on that determine whether or not we stay pure and innocent. Red signifies hardiness and valour, and while it doesn’t say it on usflag.org I’ve always been told that it represents the blood lost to give us the freedoms we have. This country was built through hard work and great strength. Through facing scary shit and not backing down. Blue signifies vigilance, perseverance & justice. Vigilance is keeping watch for possible dangers, perseverance is sticking with it til the job is done and justice is a bit self explanatory.
I’m not saying this country isn’t messed up and that something doesn’t need to be fixed. What I’m saying is that this #FuckYourFlag campaign is not the way to go about fixing it. You can be as upset with the state of this country as you like, but in no way, shape or form are you doing any good by stepping on or burning the flag. You’re raising more hackles and pissing more people off in doing so, and not even the right people. You’re upsetting the people who had nothing against you and would have likely stood by your side. In doing that, you’re losing allies and when it comes to fighting a war against an establishment, allies are what you really need.
We don’t need to be a country divided based upon the opinion of whether or not it’s right to desecrate the flag. We don’t need to be a country divided at all. The root of your problem isn’t with the flag. The root of your problem is with the fact that you feel unheard and disrespected.
I know you’re mad, but show some respect. Only then will you have it shown to you.