Kneeling in protest ultimately deepens racial divide

Tension in America will not be solved through more protest

Story by Langley Leverett, feature editor

Silence encompasses the audience. No one dares strain a cough. Not a single laugh escapes. All around, eyes are trained on that striped flag. But inside everyone’s conscience is a different scene. A mother sobbing over a dreaded letter. A son unknowingly taking his last look out the window of an airplane. A woman ordering demands over a body fighting for a shred of air. Minds everywhere wage battles of remembrance and sacrifice, as Americans stand in solidarity and acknowledge this bravery.

I remember being 4 years old and peering through the rows of boots and simultaneously hearing the honorable clink of dog tags. At the moment, I didn’t quite grasp the weighty significance of this, but every time I look back upon this day, my heart swells with unprecedented pride.

Americans, of all shape, size and color stood in unison for a cause that they fought for collectively. The reasons and occasion was wholly irrelevant; it didn’t matter what the issue was, Americans could overcome adversity in the face of diversity. This, in itself, I believe is a worthy cause to stand for.

Although our country’s society is ravaged by racial tensions, turning away from the one thing that keeps America free is only going to deepen the gash inflicted by social conflicts. Refusing to stand during the anthem may be a peaceful pursuit of protest, but don’t forget that those men and women who fought for your protesting rights, also fought for your freedom to act accordingly. Not acknowledging those who sacrificed their lives for you, is the most selfish act I could imagine.

Alternatively, I am not as ignorant to believe that discrimination and prejudice has been completely eradicated in our country. I am simply an American who sees the struggles of another American. There is no color. There is no gender. There is no economic barrier. Obviously, there is a problem, or there would be no riots in the streets. There would be no mention of police brutality, or claims of institutionalized racism.

Refusing to stand during the anthem may be a peaceful pursuit of protest, but don’t forget that those men and women who fought for your protesting rights, also fought for your freedom to act accordingly.

There is an insecurity running rampant among the citizen population that expresses the inner turmoil of those who have been oppressed, and I think that as Americans, we owe it to those before us to  stop and listen. We owe it to the ones that fought the merciless battles to try to be better. To be a country that is deserving and worthy of the sacrifices that have been committed.

Yes, there is admittedly an issue. The ways individuals have attempted to demonstrate this have been blatantly unethical, in simplest terms. I agree that compromises need to be made, but there are other ways of achieving justice without defacing valor, just as there are other ways of acknowledging the struggles of others without completely shutting them down.

Abraham Lincoln stated that “America will never be destroyed from the outside.. If we lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.” There is always a morsel of truth in each side to every story; this is just a tale that will have to make its course until we as Americans can come together and acknowledge that we aren’t perfect. Until we can listen with open minds and hear what is actually being felt, disorder will continue and compassion will become a rarity.

Americans of all color have fought for freedom, and it will be Americans who fight to preserve it. No political party can provide all sound reasoning and judgment. Instead, learn to look past what only the naked eye can see. Learn to feel the emotions of your heart, and follow those intuitions with every ounce of courageousness you can muster.

Even in 1863, the president believed we were one country, with one people, with one goal: freedom and equality. No percentage of opposition can steal that away from us. We are one country, that needs to learn to look past social divisions so that we can stand together as a unit, and ultimately evolve as a nation. Kneeling against the flag does nothing but further divide the people. In order to create a balance, individuals need to accept the simple utter fact that we are Americans. And that is all we will ever be.