Tag Archives: Freedom of Speech

The Star-‘Tangled’ Banner

Fort McHenry crowd
There are a lot of comments going about due to the flag burning at an exclusive college, concerning why the administration will no longer fly any flag on campus. “Isn’t it disrespectful to the veterans?” asked a FoxNews reporter. Yes, it is. And it is disrespectful to those who exercised their ‘free speech’ rights, and to those who’s labor builds the roads and buildings of our nation, and to those who defend it at home against fires, crime, medical emergencies… and to the great financiers as well as the ‘average Joes’ walking to their small business every day. It’s disrespectful to all of us because the stars and bars represent us all, every one of us. It is the banner of these ‘United States’, each of us doing our part to continue to work and live under the Constitution dedicated to “We, the People…”
So when protesters exercise their free speech and burn the flag, they denigrate us all, including themselves. When the college administration refuses to fly the flag, it denigrates all of us, making use of the federal taxes it receives for students’ tuition without acknowledging who provided those tax dollars.
So please, fly the flag, and carry it in your protests. Honor it as you would honor yourselves and your causes. It is your face, your lives that are reflected in it, not just the veterans who defend it, nor any of those others who proudly stand by it and build under it.

The Bible and a Patriot’s Word – Why I Exercise the First Amendment

I often get asked by people close to me why I write so many letters-to-the-editor and letters to my political representatives. After all, who really reads them but the staff that has to answer them, and of those, more often than not the reply takes shape in a form letter giving the politician’s/leader’s position on whatever the topic is. What’s the point?

Less often I am asked why I spend time reading the Bible. My family is familiar with my faith. Sailors I served with see many of our shipmates spending time inside the cover of this Book. Still, what is the point of reading stories of one nation’s journey through time or of the early years of Christianity in the twenty-first century?

Both questions can be answered with many examples, but my particular inspiration for writing today is the story relayed to me by my morning meditation. 2 Kings 5: 1 – 15 is a story from ancient Israel, a time when it was a small kingdom confined to the hills of what we now call the Palestinian West Bank. It lie alongside the cross roads of the great trade routes that still exist today and little attention was paid to it. So little that taking captives for slaves from the outlying settlements was probably routine.

The short story relays how the commanding general of one kingdom contracted a disease of the skin, and how his wife’s Israeli slave girl spoke of a prophet in her homeland who could heal the man. The general, with his king’s permission, crosses the border and goes to the king of Israel, only to learn that it wasn’t the king who was the prophet, it was one of his servants.

Then comes a humbling part. Expecting to have an elaborate ceremony where drums thunder and chants are made and hands are waved, the general from a foreign land, who has stolen a young girl from the land he is in, is simply told, “Go wash yourself, seven times, in the Jordan River.” The prophet didn’t even come out of his house to tell him, but used his own servant to relay the word. Insulting to a man of his import! Trivial! He could have washed in the rivers in his own kingdom! But his servants say to him, “If it was something difficult you were directed to do, wouldn’t you have done it? Why not do this?” The end of the story is that the general does wash in the Jordan and he is cleansed of his skin disease. Imagine that! Just ‘take a bath’.

Some might see a remarkable ‘miracle’ in the story. Others a lesson in humility for the general. Others the fear of a king who sees a neighboring army general on his doorstep, wondering when the attack will come. But David McCasland, writing for July 30th, 2013 in Our Daily Bread sees in the story the influence of the servants. The slave girl, who would have no obligation to speak, telling her mistress of a person who could help. The servants of a general, suggesting that the action suggested was so simple, why not just give it a try? They were right near the Jordan River. They’d have to cross it anyway, such as it is. Why not camp there for the night and take the baths suggested?

We are not servants or slaves in our country. And we do have a protected freedom of speech. Why not exercise it? Why not speak our minds to those who are our leaders. Though we cannot see the whole picture of events and consequences necessary to manage and create an environment for success of our people, maybe we’ll have the one idea that is necessary to move one obstacle we don’t even fully comprehend, one that could make a difference for hundreds, thousands, or even millions of our fellow citizens.

So the next time you perceive something that just seems such a simple solution, or when you feel strongly about an issue in your town, State, or our Nation, pull up a keyboard or break out a pen, some paper, and a stamp, and figure out what it is you want to say, and to whom. Write your local editor, your leadership/politician and tell them what you think. There’s no telling what might happen because you did.

My thanks for my own inspiration today, to David McCasland and Our Daily Bread on-line.

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Listen to Cardinal Dolan explain Catholic Bishops’ view on Faithful Citizenship