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Sunday, August 20, 2017

Why Are Flags, Anthems, and Monuments So Important?

Last year a professional football player chose not to stand when the national anthem was played.  In response people were upset with the player.  This year owners of professional football teams refused to hire the player to fill open spots on their teams.  The player's resume includes leading a team to a Superbowl.

Some people are upset because statues honoring the Confederate era in the United States are being taken down.  The fact that the Confederacy supported maintaining the institution of slavery in these United States apparently is irrelevant to those people.

Refuse to hold your hand over your heart when the flag of the United States is raised!  You will be treated as if you are Satan himself.

People historically have been emotionally enamored by flags, anthems, and statues.   We post our flags, stand for our anthems and of course love to honor certain events and people by creating monuments or naming streets, buildings, etc. for them.   Not everyone who deserves a statue or some form of honor has received one.  We all know that.

How many monuments to Native Americans have you come across lately?  Until 2016 there was no national museum honoring the contributions of black people in these United States of America.  The textbooks in schools have historically only covered the accomplishments and events surrounding European Americans.

What would happen if we stopped having flags, anthems, and creating monuments to human beings?  Do we really need flags, anthems and monuments?  No we don't.  These symbols and instruments of "honor" are all reflective of how we as people love to focus on our human nature and create our human idols.  We love to self promote our greatness as people. We want to take time to look at the flag of "our" country and sing a song about "our" country.  It's all just misplaced adoration.

I'm reminded of one "monument" that I would see while driving westward through the state of Indiana.  It is a large cross constructed near highway I-70 near Effingham, Indiana. It speaks for itself without having any words to explain its purpose.  The large cross lets all those who see it know what really is important.  It lets us know who created us and what we should be doing in terms of our behavior.  But, we have gotten far away from the message that cross gives us.  Instead we have become enamored by our own human importance as displayed in the flags, anthems, and monuments we create to ourselves.  These self honors may have good intention, but they present barriers to our understanding what is really important.

Why do we need flags representing countries?  Is it because if we are traveling we don't know where we are at unless we see the country's flag?  I don't think so.  Flags support the development of boundaries between people.  Flags help to keep us divided. Is it not enough that we all exist on the same planet?  No, we have to create a symbolic flag that separates us by the land we live on.  Then we have to create an anthem to go with the flag.

We are far from reaching the potential that our Creator intended for us.  Instead we're arguing about the "things" we as people have created.  Flags, anthems and monuments; our idols and man made Gods that we have been taught to adore and honor.  If I never saw another flag, heard another anthem or viewed another statue my life would be just fine.  Maybe one day we'll stop all the focus on our selves.  Until then it's up to each of us to break the cycle of devotion we have placed in our flags, anthems and monuments.