United We Stand, Divided We Fall: National Anthem

padres-national-anthemI was at the Padres / Giants game yesterday and as always I stood for the singing of the National Anthem. I stand because I believe that in spite of all our imperfections as a nation we can be united.

Given time we can pick anything apart.  The National Anthem is not perfect. The melody is borrowed from an old British drinking song – To Anacreon in Heaven. The lyrics, a poem written by Francis Scott Key, are not inclusive of all Americans at the time of its writing. Until recently verses two through four were mostly forgotten (I never knew they existed). In the purest of intentions, the anthem is meant to unite us in song and to that aim it is perfect. No other song sends chills up my spine like the National Anthem.


Is my pride in this country and my reverence for the National Anthem misplaced because we have issues? I think not.


Like its anthem, the United States is not perfect. We are in a constant state of war. Our history is full of bigotry, slavery, and genocide. Our political system is rife with crony capitalism and corruption. Our justice system is skewed to the point of being ridiculous. I can claim to have not participated directly in any of this, but I have through my elected representatives. I’d like to divorce myself from any responsibility. I cannot. As a citizen of the United States I am a part of it.

We all have an individual personal responsibility for the state of our union. If we allow injustice to happen it is not someone else’s fault, it is our fault. Keeping silent is no different than condoning a wrongful act. And if you think it just happens to that guy over there, you are wrong. Acts perpetrated to control one group are litmus tests for controlling the rest of society. It is the way of the world. Groups in power always want to consolidate power however they can. An apathetic citizenry makes it easy for them. Our sole purpose is not to be relegated as beneficiaries or victims of the state. We are meant to be full participants. Regardless of how we may be divided once the description of American is applied to us, we are all American citizens first.

If Colin Kaepernick wants to kneel for the National Anthem, it is certainly within his first amendment rights to do so. The issue he brings to light is not imagined. What do we do about it? The answer is easy; the implementation is hard. It happens one incident, one citizen, one police officer, one judge, one elected representative at a time. None of that changes without the individual citizen taking personal responsibility.

Educate yourself about the issues and people running for office from more than one source. Pay attention to more than the presidential election. Local elections have more effect on you than national elections. Then get out and VOTE!



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