Decomposing the patriotic symbols clashes

I had a conversation recently about the Flag, the Anthem, Standing, and Kneeling.  Here is a reply to  the conversation.  There are quotes of other people.

I think we pretty close together!  But I will unpack and decompose the ideas into atoms while folding in points you have made.  There are two main portions to this:

A.  Symbolism, specifically what respect is, what representation is, and how forcing an expression is like religious oppression.

B.  Religion & politics in the job place



§ Assumptions

  • The anthem and the flag are symbols.  They represent ideals we cherish as a nation. People die for these ideals, such as the 1st Amendment. They don’t die for symbols.
  • Expressions are symbols.  Standing and kneeling are both signs (symbols) of reverence, depending on context. So is putting your hand on your heart and taking off your hat (as was done when the anthem was first played at the 1918 World Series).
  • Playing the anthem is a patriotic and political expression.
  • There is no one form, true form, or more “right” form of Patriotic expression.
  • There is no one form, true form, or more “right” form of respect, honor, deference, or reverence.

§ Discussion

  • The Flag and Anthem are symbols of what our nation stands for.  “Home of the free and land of the brave”, the Constitution (1st Amendment in this case).
  • You: « I decide to stand because my intent is to extend respect to living veterans and honor the memory of those that have passed. »  A noble and individual choice, not a collective mandate.  Your intent — as you have expressed it — is also targeted toward veterans, not necessarily national values (like freedom).  The symbolism of YOUR expression is not the same as others.
  • And that’s all right.  Question is: does it bother you that other people are symbolically expressing other things that are more targeted toward our nation not fulfilling its values, the ones you profess to honor?  If it does, then there is an unwarranted clash of symbolism.  You stand to show respect for your intent; others kneel to reflect that the country is not living up to higher standards.  Both are complementary, noble, & patriotic  — not mutually exclusive — expressions.
  • You: « The folks that are kneeling are kneeling for different reasons; and their message is not organized and thus comes across as disrespectful and not religious. »  So “organized” and  having the same “reasons” are requirements for what a symbol should mean?  Consider the last paragraph (above). Your reasons and what you “intend” are your own. That criterion does not apply to others?
  • It further calls into question the “their reasons are different” part. How close must “reasons” be to justify the same physical expression (of which we only have a limited possible physiological number)?   Same ballpark? (Like yours vs. someone who is standing to honor Freedom and the 1st Amendment vs. someone who has no idea, they just feel it patriotic?)
  • Playing the anthem during a company function (football game, business of entertainment) makes it a larger conversation than an owner’s command.  That larger conversation includes what is happening in the supposed “land of the free and the home of the brave,” justice, and institutionalized racism as a national theme.
  • What is the type of Patriotism that actually contradicts what the nation is all about — freedom — if you are not free to:
      • Not conform
      • Not dissent
      • Not protest
    • ANSWER: it’s not patriotism, it’s nationalism, like fascism.
  • What does it mean to force others to conform to a particular form of expression that they accept, but you don’t?  Forcing conformity is not freedom.  Stifling national discussion using symbols is repression & censorship, not freedom.  One of trump’s last tweets was that players who don’t stand should lose their jobs and be kicked out of the country.
  • Playing the anthem in 1918 had a huge, popular effect, and soon caught on as routine. It is not a necessary fixture for games. It is now “routine” part of entertainment pageantry. It’s been monetized and, now, politicized.
  • Why is kneeling a sign of disrespect? Because it doesn’t conform to some “right” way, which is, at the very least, standing?  Wouldn’t turning your back or leaving or not coming out on the field be more like showing disdain? Whereas facing forward and kneeling is respectful (or submissive) in every other single context known to man.
  • You: « That and surviving military family members feel disrespected by the kneeling. » I’m reminded of something from a previous discussion: “Football players are disrespecting everything our nation stands for.”  The ignorance in that statement is shocking.  They are exercising what our servicemen have fought and died for.  Are our freedoms and military service mutually exclusive?  Does the military demand special dispensation from the ideals they fought for when it concerns them?  That’s not what I hear from military members, both in reading and in person. So using military service as a reason to squelch freedoms is as contradictory to the idea of service as it is disrespectful of the military itself and what they do for us.
  • It strikes me as odd also that military family members would feel disrespected, like if you don’t show deference for the flag, we take personal offense at fighting and dying for nothing.  That is reducing our nation’s values to a few voices that have reduced the whole of our nation’s values to their personal feelings.  Are they serving for recognition?  Do they want validation for their service?  To me, if they served for any reason other than to protect this country from harm and to preserve our values, then the value system they’re using to be offended is skewed toward service over the values being fought for.  Like “party over country.”
  • To protest the protest is to actually be protesting the lofty ideals of freedom and the Constitution.  It is to try to force unquestioned conformity.  It is the reduction of our national ideals to simplistic rules that contradict what we stand for.  Erosion by dogmatism.
  • Patriotism is not merely “loving your country” but also cherishing the values that have made our democracy what it is.  Patriotism means standing up for your country’s values, including pushing back and making a fuss when those values aren’t being realized.  Standing (a perfunctory expression) for symbols is not the same as actively standing (protesting) for our values.  Forcing people into a form of expression is hollow “patriotism”.
  • I use religious terms when talking about prescribed forms of reverence and “appropriate” expression. I believe that when you turn patriotism into nationalism, you’ve turned it into an intolerant religion because it shares all the same characteristics. Kick people out of the country/church if they don’t believe the same way you do. Ostracize and condemn (burn at the stake) people who contradict the “right” way.

Religion & politics in the job place

§ Assumptions

  • The NFL is a business, and the teams are franchise instantiations of the business.  It has a “brand to protect.”
  • Since Citizens United (2010), there is no protection against employer coercion to political involvement except at some State levels.

§ Discussion

  • You: « The choice is still the players, coaches and staff’s to make to kneel or stand, kneeling just comes with a consequence. »   With the Supreme Court ruling on Citizens United, the best employees can hope for is that one of the states in which a franchise is based has laws that protect against coercion.  So your point is well taken.  There isn’t anything illegal about it now that corporations are people too.   That means they can apply what “consequences” they want.  The Constitution’s right to free speech only applies when the government is trying to restrict it.
  • However, for a Jehova’s witness, it IS illegal to coerce them into this.  There exist national anti-discrimination protections for those people because what is one person’s political stance is contrary to another’s religious stance (or “firmly held beliefs”).  Those people usually remain seated.
  • WHY did the NFL _owners_ make their decision?  ANSWER: business – they’re losing money.  So business trumps patriotic and constitutional principles.  This is the Trump way.  Maybe, it’s the American way, god forbid.

Spirit Brotherhood with Joseph Firecrow — Live on!

The day was overcast and rainy – I had just ordered a Halibut stuffed pastry, and the only message I could get on my cell phone was that on Tuesday, July 11, one of my dearest friends and blood-brother passed away.

Profound sadness became a solid vacuum within me; yet …

In spite of the grayness of the day, colors were brighter — green was greener, brown was browner, smiles were brighter.  I thought of Joe.

I embraced the wet and the cold, feeling alive for Joe.

I touched the plants, the tree bark, the flowers; and smiled as my tears became one with the rain. I thought of Joe.

The caws from a trio of huge pitch-black crows made my heart sing for Joe and then soar with them across the valley.

The halibut in my pastry was remarkable. As I thought of the life given for that pleasure,  I thought of Joe.

My spirituality shifted to a different angle, reminding my soul of what magic was.  His voice, his laughter, his tenderness, his being — a confluence of wonder I will never, ever forget, for I will always sense him in the Spirit of everything.

During the blood-mingling ceremony, Ho’ėspenahkohe baptized me be known to the Great Spirit as Ma’háhko’e.  We shared soul secrets.  While Bears don’t fly, I hope you soar; and roam and sing and dance and laugh and cry. Farewell Ho’ėspenahkohe.

All my love,


What is the “high road”

HIGH refers to lofty, elevated, aspirational, “evolved,” cultured, mature, and Godly.

The “high road” is a path one chooses to take in a moment of conflict or challenge to one’s ego. It’s choosing the path that is elevated, aspirational, spiritual, and civil, rather than choosing effortless baseness.

The “high road” takes effort. It has an objective that is greater than feeding ego or satisfying primitive urges. That objective is to be better than base because, on the higher plane, you are closer to the Divine.

The high road manifests in a number of ways:

  • Not knee-jerk or impulsive reaction, but rather thoughtful and empathetic.
  • Avoiding conflict and hurtful, vindictive interactions and confrontations. It is mindful of consequences to one’s reputation and that of those one represents.
  • Knowing when a battle shouldn’t be a battle and knowing when a situation is worth fighting for. Not battling for winning’s sake.
  • Not expecting someone to “treat you right” before you demonstrate more considerate and civil behavior.
  • Recognizing when your opinion or position may not be the only one or even the right one. As humans, we rarely have a clear picture of all the variables in play.
  • Understanding when standing your ground has more merit than just preserving ego.
  • Learning the difference between petty conflict and constructive tension. Differences of opinion expand opportunities for judging justly.
  • Respecting your own feelings without letting emotion get in the way of mindfulness. Not using what you feel as fact that has any bearing on anyone else’s truth.
  • Not belittling or denigrating people to make them lower or degraded, but rather considering their perspectives and contributions. Looking for the positive, rather than generating the negative.

Base name-calling and other low-brow actions are “base” and “low” because they are not what adults aspire to attain. For the spiritual, it is reveling in the primitive mundane.

Kindness trumps vindictiveness; forgiveness trumps holding on to poisonous grudges; broader thinking trumps narrow impulses.

Wikileaks & “truth”

wikileaks-and-truth“Give us the truth” > Truth is like the concept of Relevance: knowing that something is or isn’t is only relevant to judgments we’re trying to make; and something only appears relevant relative to the validation we’re looking for.

What “truth” — some relevant fact that supports some conclusion — are the leaks providing? That she seems to be saying one thing to one audience and something else to another audience? That’s knowing your audience.

That what she says to one seems to contradict what she says to the other? There’s a problem, because we don’t know where she really stands.

So we add other “truths” — she takes big bucks to say encouraging things to the other audience. Does taking big bucks imply that she’s telling the truth to that audience (and that, therefore, she’s not telling us “truth”) or that there’s more “truth” to that perspective than to the other perspective for us? That’s fallacy.

Then there is our tendency to see (or want to see) black or white. Is what she’s saying to each audience that appears in conflict mean that there’s nothing in between? Or maybe the apparent conflict means we prefer to see everything align perfectly, as though there aren’t legitimate perspectives on the same object depending on where you’re standing?

People on one side of the planet aren’t going to see the Full Moon that you’re seeing in your part of the world — that is, your perspective. But it’s the same moon.

This last point is the problem with the masses in general: The attitude that there can’t be different angles of the same truth and both be true. It’s too much work to triangulate on the truth, so it has to be simple with no apparent conflicts — and we thus blind ourselves to seeing how the actions she takes to treat each perspective can fulfill promises of both.

I think black/white concepts is reductive. I think that there are nuances to everything, and that when I watch adults deal with children, I see this differentiation of perspective without exception.

Farewell Ernie

ernieThe wind left my body down to the cell, and my soul froze to solid, seizing my being until waves of saltwater brought me back ’round to pain essence deep.

In the vibrant greens around me, I see only gray hue. In the blueness of the sky, I feel small. The immensitude of things around me feels emptier, with less substance than before. Or maybe they have just become “things,” for their soul has left.

I feel barely encapsulated within my skin that even the faintest thought of you rends.  Then I think of Rich, and I imagine my sorrow multiplied by his years together with Ernie and the time remaining of his life — what must he feel.  Deeper, vaster, most complete.

If it weren’t for the depth of blessing in loving, I would wish it away. If it weren’t for the color it brings, I would turn it off. I see the future, and it has super-nova pain in it…and it has opportunities for concentrated blessing. Might as well make the future an atomic event and hope for vaporization.

Farewell Ernie. My sincerest wish is that the relief you sought is worth having traded in life & love for it.


Le vent a quitté chaque cellule de mon corps, et mon âme s’est pétrifiée, saisissant mon être jusqu’à ce que des vagues d’eau salée me ramènent aux douleurs profondes de mon essence même.

Dans la verdure vibrante qui m’entoure, je ne vois que du gris. Dans le bleu du ciel, je me sens minuscule. L’immensité des choses autour de moi me semble quelconque, dégageant moins de substance qu’auparavant. Ou peut-être sont-elles devenues des «choses» inanimées, car leur âmes les ont quittées.

Je me sens si peu reliée à ma peau que la moindre pensée de toi la déchire. Puis je pense à Rich. Si ma peine est immense, la sienne doit être encore plus grande, le temps passé ensemble ne faisant que la multiplier, plus profondément, de manière plus vaste, plus complète.

Si ce n’était pas pour la profondeur de la bénédiction de ton amour je l’aurai survolée. Si ce n’était pas pour toutes les couleurs que tu m’as apporté, j’aurai tout oublié. Je vois un futur de désespoir mais avec des opportunités de bénédictions concentrées. Il se pourrait que ce futur soit un évènement de grande ampleur avec l’espoir d’oublier cette peine.

Adieu Ernie. Mon souhait le plus sincère est que ce soulagement recherché vaille la peine d’être échangé par ta vie et ton amour de celle-ci.

(Translated by Tomfried)

‘Phobia’ in Homophobia obscures simple hate

Playing devil’s advocate: “but I don’t ‘fear’ homosexuals”.

I would reply: what are the different words for “love” in the original Greek of the bible? One of them, agápɛ, was more of an attitude that translated to intentional actions that promoted unconditional well-being. “Love thy neighbor as thyself.”

But that’s not what they’re practicing. It’s quite the opposite: agápɛ ≠ mísia. They can say “love the sinner; hate the sin” all they want. But how that translates is deflection off the sin and onto the sinner. “Tough love” – for my “own good”? The ends justify the means?

I’m thinking that the primary command to “love thy neighbor” and “the greatest of these is love” was meant to show Grace – the very foundation for getting into Heaven – not “toe the line” to spare us sinless-righteous from countenancing your sinfulness and forcing us to live among it.

This is the “Christ” part of christianity. Without it, it’s christianism and its followers christianists. Anything you add to Love becomes a condition; if you condition Grace in anyway, it ceases to be Grace. The light is out.

So, if not agápɛ, then what? Mísia, as in homomisia, homophiliomisia and/or misohomophilia for the perspective and misohomophiliac or misohomo for the person exhibiting it.

I can see hate being how a deep fear is expressed. But I see actions born of fear more like reactions to create barriers. (For example, fear of being invaded would compel deliberate construction of defenses.) Premeditated actions and false-witness based on “tradition,” disapprobation and personal disgust, that’s hate. Seeing dragons in the windmills, that’s disease. Tilting at windmills, that’s a choice.

Let’s call it what it is: hate.

Racism compared to Anti-SameSex Marriage

CrookedTimber is one of my favorite blogs because of the depth and breadth of thought and discussion that occurs on nearly any topic imaginable.

Anyhoo, in the topic “Let’s bury – I say, let’s bury the hatchet, but not in anyone’s head, boy” (by John Holbo on April 19, 2014), the subject is: is anti-same-sex-marriage stances comparable to racism?

I appreciate John’s attempt to establish a starting point for behavioral, political, traditional, and psychological discussion of racism. He basically starts by saying racism is about hierarchical dominance and bigotry is about hate. Continue reading