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October 18, 2016

To Honor or To Serve?

I was raised in a military family. I was raised in a military town. Part of my upbringing occurred on a military base. My father is a 20-year Marine veteran. So I understand service, sacrifice, and loyalty. Which is why, even though I personally find it poor manners and bad taste to sit, kneel, or otherwise ignore the national anthem, I will defend to my death your right to do it.

Others have said it better and probably more eloquently, but being an American is hard work. The rights conveyed by the Bill of Rights are difficult to live up to, not because they are confusing or hard to understand, but because they apply to everyone, including that person down the street, on the TV, or even in your own house with whom you vehemently disagree. Your rights end where that person's rights begin, and vice versa.

There is so much hatred and vitriol in our country right now. I simply don't understand why, except to say that it sells. I mean, would you really, truly listen to some of these pundits if what they were saying wasn't so outrageous? The extreme is selling and it is selling well. So much so that there are very few actual, legitimate news programs left. It has all become opinion pieces and entertainment.

Any time someone forgets that the rights conveyed by the first ten amendments apply to everyone, regardless of race, sex, orientation, or political leanings, I start to get worried and leery. That is a person who, often, either is uneducated, uninformed, or has an agenda. If the reason is one of the first two, you can explain how the Bill of Rights work, that it applies equally to everyone at all times (with a few caveats), and you educate or inform them, making them a better citizen. But those who either refuse to listen of have an agenda will twist, ignore, or obfuscate what you try to teach them and will continue to spout their hatred.

I'd like to coin a new phrase and a new movement, somehow: compassionate understanding. No matter how offensive what someone else is doing or saying is to you, try to be compassionate to the reasons and understand the motives. For example, maybe what Colin Kaepernick started offends you -- why? what about his protest movement is so offensive and why are you reacting so strongly? Why is such a simple, peaceful means of protest causing such a reaction to you? What is it about transgender people using the restroom of the sex with which they identify (and, quite possibly, dress and look like, too) causes you issue? Are you simply uncomfortable with the difference of a man dressing, looking, and acting like a woman? Are you a little uncomfortable with your own sexuality such that you think you might find such a man attractive when you otherwise identify as heterosexual? Is that transgender man harming you in some way with his choice? Why does another religion make you so fearful? What about it is causing you difficulty? Is anything that religion is doing really affect you in any way? What about that liberal person offends you so much? What about that conservative causes you so much stress and fear?

Let's step back, learn about those people and things we fear and distrust, walk a mile in their shoes, and see what the root cause of your discomfort really is. I think, in most cases, you'll find the problem really resides in you.

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