I write this out of curiosity, and to see if I can get a glimpse of the mindset of someone with an opposing view. This is a question that I don’t think is being asked enough of the people who are vehemently against “disrespecting” the flag. I know I am making an assumption in this question, but I don’t believe it to be a far leap. I believe that the vast majority of people offended by Colin Kaepernick and his protest consider themselves Christian. I am aware that may be many who are not, but in general I believe the fiercely patriotic to be Christian in faith. So, to those who are Christian I ask: Do you consider yourself a Christian first or an American first?
This question is purely to stimulate discussion. I believe, being Christian myself, that having Christian first values mandates that you have empathy toward those who walk a different walk than you, and standing up for those who are being oppressed, overlooked, or left out. I believe an America first mindset is very counter to that. An America first mindset boarders on a mindset of Nationalism. I read an article recently in Christianity Today and the following passage stood out to me:
Nationalism, on the other hand, takes that love of country and expands it to mean love of country at the expense of other nations. It’s when someone believes they are better because they come from a particular place, or that innocuous sounding title “American exceptionalism”; sometimes this term means a very good patriotism that is grateful for the gifts bestowed on American citizens, but too often this means treasuring American identity at the expense of others. It’s saying, “My country is better than yours, and you are less civilized/enlightened/good because of where you are from.” There are ways to say, “The nation that you belong to should consider adopting some of my country’s freedoms” without it being nationalism. But nationalism never considers what one’s nation could learn from others.
Without moving too far into another subject, the last line sums up what I believe is the primary issue with Americans and the way relate to each other and people from other nations. Somewhere along the way we decided that we knew everything and there was nothing that anyone else could offer to enhance who we are as a country and as a people. We love to tell everyone how we are the greatest country in the world, but we forget that we were considered a young nation looking to gain it’s footing in the world before World War II. It wasn’t until we flattened 2, heavily populated cities that anyone took us seriously.
I believe the revelry in victory without taking time, as a nation, to lament the fact that we felt the need to take such measures to ensure our country’s survival, has shaped our national psyche. I am not saying that it was not necessary at the time. Hindsight is 20/20 and who am I to question a decision of that gravity. I am just saying we should have mourned the hundreds of thousands of innocent souls that died because of the ambitions of a few men with power. It would have made us more empathetic as a nation, and because we weren’t empathetic in that moment, which was a defining one for our country, we see it as weakness to be empathetic in any situation that is less than.
It’s difficult for me to see how people who follow the teachings of the bible not be empathetic to things that the Black Community in America is experiencing, and honestly, has been experiencing for a long time. If you think this is only a thing since the ability to hold a camera with internet capability in your hand, you have truly deluded yourself. I would argue that, as bad as it is now, that it was most likely worse before the smart phone era, due to some realizing their transgressions and ceasing them for fear of repercussion. But that’s just a hunch.