A flag is a symbol.
A flag is not a person, or a group of people.
A flag is not freedom.
A flag is a symbol.
Symbols are representative, but symbols are also relative. They mean different things to different people.
This is important to understand.
To some, they believe a flag represents freedom, and the sacrifice that has been offered to secure that freedom.
To others, a flag represents oppression, and is the banner under which their freedoms disappear and their lives are controlled.
Either is reasonable, depending on your viewpoint.
The former is representative of all that has taken place to arrive at the point in which we currently exist. In other words, this is typically the viewpoint of a person who believes that a ‘flag’ represents a ‘country’, which is comprised of ‘people’ and ‘principles’ [such as freedom].
The latter is representative of a ‘government’, which seeks to control ‘people’ who live within a ‘country’, which is defined by the area which can be forceably controlled by aforementioned ‘government’. In other words, it is typically the viewpoint of a person who believes that a flag represents a ‘government’, which seeks to control the behavior of ‘people’, and that ‘people’ and ‘principles’ [such as freedom] can be valued, and celebrated, and striven and fought for, even or perhaps especially in the absence of a ‘government’.
The primary distinction between these two belief structures is, put simply, the presence of a distinction between ‘principles’ and ‘government’.
The former set of people do not see a distinction, and view any slight against one as an attack on the other.
The latter set of people, on the contrary, view the existence of these two entities as mutually exclusive.
Symbols mean different things to different people. This is important as we look at what is going on in the world around us.
Chastising people for their behavior towards a symbol is easy if you assume that the symbol means the same thing to them that it does to you. You take it personally. You think they’re direcly insulting your ‘principles’.
However, if you take a step back, given the above, and realize that to them, the symbol itself is a direct insult to their ‘principles’, you begin to understand their behavior.
It is more important still to realize that in this situation, you are both reacting strongly, against each other, because you each believe the other is standing against your ‘principles’, when in reality a mere misunderstanding about the meaning of a symbol has lead you to lose sight of the fact that you are, in fact, championing the SAME ‘principles’.
Now, to this Kaepernick guy.
I don’t care about sports, or this guy, any more than I care about anybody else I don’t know, except to say that I believe in Liberty for Everyone.
I will say this: addressing of grievances used to be encouraged. This is an example of a person in the latter group addressing their grievances, and refusing to align with a ‘symbol’ that, as defined above, is contradictory to the person’s ‘principles’.
This is not a slight against your ‘principles’. If you are offended, then it is merely because you disagree upon the meaning of the symbol chosen as the vessel for the message. The ‘principles’ being defended, even though you may disagree with the method, are likely the same ‘principles’ you hold dear yourself.
Don’t be so blind, dumb and hateful that you can’t take a step back and see the bigger picture, which, in short, is that the symbol is not the thing that needs defending. The ‘principles’ are. The sooner you realize this, the sooner you might find allies in unexpected places, and enemies in plain view.