This is and probably will be my most controversial article, ever. Let me preface this by saying I am an American citizen… I was born and raised in this country. In my family lineage I have a civil war general, and in my more immediate family a grandfather who served in WWII as a pilot, a man I never had the privilege of meeting. Both men fought against racism and unthinkable crimes against humanity before my time; both men served their country in a time of need, and both men I have an overarching respect and appreciation for. But people, those days have passed. We live in a twenty first century society and culture that still embodies the outdated definitions of heroism and freedom. Nothing bothers me more than seeing large groups of people still believing that twenty first century Wars are in honor of, and are in the righteousness of our freedom.
This is not a political article or a political stance, even though I am sure it falls on a side. This is an article about twenty first century humanity, culture and belief.
I enjoy and cherish the simple everyday freedoms this country offers, and I believe that there have been wars that were justified and unavoidable in this countries history. I do my best, like many of us do, not to take my everyday freedoms for granted and appreciate the fact that I can wake up in the morning and write an article like this one and go about my day however I please. But with that said, I do not equate those freedoms and my appreciation of freedom with anything that has happened on the war front in the last fifty years. This in no way is meant to disrespect those who choose or have chosen to go to war in the idea that they are fighting for our freedom or to tear down their sense of reality, purposefully. It just naturally happens, but let me explain.
I, like many people, attend professional sporting events on a regular basis. Before every game they bring a modern day veteran onto the floor or field, and honor his/her tours and military accomplishments. Every single person stands and claps their hands together as the resume of accomplishments is run down on the PA system with a booming and triumphant voice, after this, it’s followed by gratitude that he/she is fighting for our freedom. As I sit in my seat, watching 30,000+ people applauding this person, I wonder what makes them applaud this fact like a herd of remote controlled sheep. Yes, I am sitting, not clapping my hands. I make this conscious choice not because I do not have respect for the human being and individual standing out there, but because I disagree whole heartily with the message this type of ceremony conveys. As I look around, it appears as though I am literally the only one who isn’t standing, although I am sure there are a few others. Their reasons? maybe different than mine, but who could know for sure.
I do not blame those who sign up for the military– I blame our culture of violence and most importantly the outdated belief that violence and war equal freedom. I do not stand because I do not support the cultural message, I do not stand because I do not support war and I do not stand because I feel in my heart of hearts that this is true.
This choice at the end of the day is the essence of our freedom, we are able to stand or sit for what we believe in. As I see these people I live next to, call my friends and share a country with unconsciously standing, applauding and following one another as if the national anthem has made an encore appearance; I can’t help but wonder if these people are too scared to think for themselves or if I’m just sitting in a very large room brimming with people who actually buy into and believe this message: War and violence equals freedom and respect.
These public pageants are only an indication of how far, still, we must journey as human beings and as an evolving American and global culture. We have an American culture steeped in violent media that most of the country ignores or looks up to. We have video games like Call of Duty and Medal of Honor that further disseminate and perpetuate these misguided and antiquated messages all because we have a society that truly believes that war and violence is the only was to gain respect and freedom from those that threaten our own freedom. This propaganda has been used to fuel every war America has started or participated in over the last fifty years.
Until we begin to understand as a society that true freedom is a safe place to live, access to healthy food, quality education and the disillusionment from judgement and hate, we will continue to create the same mistakes within our culture that have led us to where we are economically and environmentally.
I pay homage to those that have lost their lives, been injured or changed forever because of war, all over the world. I give my love and respect to them all as fellow human beings and I mean that from the bottom of my heart.
But no man can agree that war is right, no man can agree that losing a family member or friend in the face of battle is worth it. Times have changed and the real war for freedom is being fought by those that stand against poverty, homelessness, corruption and a culture soaked in the blood of misguided and outdated beliefs and ideals. I would like to see professional sports pay honor and respect to those who spend their time and resources battling our twenty first century problems and standing up for the ideals that will bring constructive action and peace, rather than destruction, duality and violence in the face of fear.