I Will Always Respect The American Flag, Even If You Won't

I Will Always Respect The American Flag, Even If You Won't

No, it's not about my disagreement with your protest; it's about what the flag truly symbolizes.
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Nothing annoys me more than people who disrespect the military. It really isn't always their fault, though. Many people are just generally unaware of how much servicemen and servicewomen sacrifice for us, the general civilian public, so they don't understand what they are degrading.

However, that does not lessen the bitterness that people who associate a flag with fallen brothers and sisters in arms and family feel when people kneel for and generally disrespect the flag. To them, kneeling for and disrespecting the flag is not just a protest against the nation and its ill actions, but rather a disrespect for the lives lost defending that flag and its rights.

My issue is not with the reason for the protest, rather it is with the unintended consequences.

I am POSITIVE that those who kneel during the National Anthem in front of the flag and disrespect it have never seen one being presented to the weeping family of a dead soldier. They have never stood at a funeral and heard "Taps" being played by fellow servicemen. They have never felt a 21-gun salute rattle their bones.

My first semester at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, I was blessed with being able to work on a project concerning PTSD in veterans and possible solutions to this widespread reaction. I was blessed enough to be able to interview active and retired service members with PTSD or that have experience with PTSD. Talking to them was the most eye-opening experience I have ever had. I listened to their harrowing stories from their conflicts while deployed and their struggles once they returned home.

I was completely moved not only by their bravery and resilience but also by their unwavering willingness to return in a heartbeat to defend those back in the States. They even explicitly mentioned returning to defend those who had views different than theirs, especially concerning this kneeling matter, solely because freedom of speech and expression are two of the essential pillars the USA was built upon.

The issue is most people don't understand what the flag really means. It’s easy to view it simplistically and say that when one kneels for the flag they are just kneeling to show their revolt for the general mistreatment of their race by the nation. However, they do not realize that to the large military population of the USA it means much more. It means that you are disregarding their friends who gave the ultimate sacrifice and the families that have received a folded flag in remembrance of their deceased loved ones.

I understand your right to peacefully protest, and I support that right, just as those who are, have been and will be overseas support that right. That’s why they signed up. They want to give all of us that are privileged enough to be citizens of the USA the opportunity to do whatever we want within humane limits. And that includes the right to peacefully protest. Anything.

However, I personally will never partake in this form of protest regardless of how strongly I feel for the cause behind it because I cannot support actions that hurt those who have given their all for us.

Cover Image Credit: Skeeze / Pixabay

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Let's Talk About The N-Word.

If you're still confused on why this is an issue, this should clear things up.
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A few days ago, I watched a white male call a black female the N-word. He not only called her that, but he also used the word as the caption to his Snapchat. This boy, who attends my university, then continued to post the snap and share this moment of pure racism to all of his friends and followers. That’s a problem.

The N-word is not some slang or trendy language that can be tossed in and out of conversations like “bae” or “lit” or “fleek”. This is a word that has been used derogatorily for centuries to oppress and dehumanize people of African-American descent. People like me.

Q: So why do “people like me” use the word if it’s so derogatory and triggering?

A: Great question. It’s because, when we say it (with an -a ending), to each other, the context is completely different. The word is no longer oppressing. When “people like me” say the N-word, we’re reclaiming a title that was created to make us feel as “different” as we looked and using it in a way that connects us. African-Americans and our ancestors have endured years centuries of racism, bigotry, clutched purses, sideways glances, crossed streets, back of the bus, random drug-tests, stereotypes (the list goes on) to say that word. The word has a sense of camaraderie, not hate, when people like me use it.

Q: But can we use it in a song? “N*** in Paris” is a bop, and I swear I don't even really use the word.

A: It totally is a bop, and you can listen to that song as many times as your heart desires. But just don’t sing that part of the song. It’s not as hard as you think. It’s one word out of an entire song. If you think the beat doesn’t “flow as hard” without it then it might be time to find a new song and check yourself.

Q: But when I use it, I swear I’m not using it in a derogative manner. It’s like saying “What’s good, dude?”, it’s friendly.

A: That’s cool, but did you know that there’s are at least 20 other words that can be used to convey the word “friend”? I’ll even link it.

In today's society, tensions are high, not only with people of color, but with those of other ethnicities, religious beliefs, sexuality, gender orientation and so on. There are people who feel that those who are "triggered" by derogatory statements need to get a thicker skin. Words are just words, and words can't hurt you; but they can. Words, like the N-word, have been taken back by those who have used them to oppress others so that people, like the boy from my university, can't use them.

Cover Image Credit: Pexels

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There Is An Unspoken Link Between Gun Violence And Men, It's Time We Re-Evaluated Masculinity

Confronting the epidemic of school shootings needs to start with acknowledging toxic masculinity.
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Eighteen. Eighteen is the number of school shootings that have occurred since January 1, 2018. Eighteen in 43 days.

Three. Three is the number of school shootings each week.

438. 438 is the number of innocent human beings, shot in school shootings subsequent to the death of twenty children and six adults in Sandy Hook, Newtown on December 14, 2012.

As these numbers grow larger, numbness saturates our skin, then insidiously seeps into our deep tissue and muscles, including our brains. We detach ourselves from a crisis that is currently quintessential to society as a whole.

Another headline appears on social media, begging for some form of a reaction. These reactions lead to the creation of further polarization and the questioning of the Second Amendment, forbidding us to unite in stopping future massacres executed on children.

“Kids shooting kids.” “Teens killing teens.” “Students murdering students.”

How about, “boys killing kids,” “men killing teens,” “male students murdering students?”

Of the 96 mass shootings committed since 1982, all but two were committed by MEN. In the United States, MEN own guns at triple the rate of women. MEN murdered 1,600 women in 2013 alone. The most commonly used weapon was a gun.

There is an unspoken yet unmistakable link between men and gun violence. It decomposes down to toxic masculinity. Masculinity is arguably the most important entities for a male. It is the concept that defines his self-worth, positions him in his social hierarchy, and controls the way in which he is “sized up" by other males.

Yet, masculinity is the concept that leads directly to the inability to feel, the incapacity to express any emotion at all. Men are taught through the social learning process systematically practiced in each and every institution, that emotions interfere with masculinity and therefore harms male ego and virility.

Emotions, however, are an inevitable and imperative component of human existence. Nevertheless, for men, they are often rejected, suppressed, and avoided. This rejection, suppression, and avoidance is the recipe for gruesome violence perpetrated by aggressive males, that violence that feeds the mouths of too many innocent people…with bullets.

We speak of mental illness and guns. We speak of terrorism and guns. We do not speak of men and guns. In order to eliminate gun violence, it is beyond crucial that we spark a change in the culture of toxic masculinity. This powerful construct is so deeply interwoven into our mainstream American culture of patriarchy and male dominance.

Yet, it is indeed possible to start to change at a local or even individual level. Allow men to begin to feel. Embrace the sentiment. Allow for men to communicate. Allow them to share how they are *hold your breath,* feeling. Because men, like all other living beings, have feelings too.

It is the time that men are capable of immersing themselves in their feelings, without risking their self-esteem.

Aggression and violence are the byproducts of emotional suppression. It is on us to trigger the change rather than perpetuating the current stigma whereby men are prohibited to feel.

Let us alleviate the numbness and detachment from these numbers…numbers that signify the lives deprived of their time on Earth due to gunshots, for these numbers are far too detrimental to accept as “normal.” Let us unite and fix this societal epidemic of gun violence through the celebration of humane feelings, male or female.

Confronting the epidemic of gun violence should not be a fight over the Constitution, but a fight to save humanity. Let us be the catalyst of the modification in masculinity, from aggressive violence to the acceptance of feelings and a manifestation of our humanness.

Cover Image Credit: @usatoday

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