I was at a high school football game this past Friday. It was a decent late summer evening. Not too muggy and warm. I had just finished watching the pre game team warm ups when it was that fateful time. Time for the national anthem. The stadium announcer directed us to stand and pay respect to our country and flag. Instructed us to remove our hats if we had one. At that point it struck me that we are being told what to do as if we had no choice. "You will stand, you will take off your cap, you will respect the flag and the country!" This direction and instruction in the land of the free.
I thought to myself "why do you have to direct and command us on what to do? " If we really respect the flag and all it is supposed to represent, we would not need anyone's directions and instructions when the anthem played. We would simply stand once we heard the opening melody of the anthem. The fact that we have to be told what to do seems to infer that we really don't respect the flag and the country. Respect is being demanded from us. We are complying because we don't have a choice but to comply.
What would happen if standing for the national anthem became optional? How many of you would remain seated? Why is it necessary to play an anthem anyway? Is it to reinforce a false security in our allegiance to themes we really do not believe in?
A second thought came to mind as I robotically complied and stood looking aimlessly around the stadium. I saw one gentlemen walking out of the bleachers to an area behind the bleachers wearing a hat in the process. I thought to myself, "now he had the right idea!" Instead of standing via command I should have escorted myself out of the stands and stood somewhere out of sight while the anthem was being played. Or I should have just stayed seated with my hat on, waiting for all the patriotic stuff to end.
Lastly came the thought why can't we just stand or sit quietly and say a prayer to ourselves to our Creator? Why does allegiance to a country that supported enslaving people for hundreds of years have priority over praying to our Creator in whatever way we individually want to pray?
It all comes down to man made rituals and customs that have been forced upon us. Forced upon us in schools. Forced upon us in the military. Forced upon us at sporting events. Sporting events which are supposed to be a distraction for us from all the serious parts of daily life. What happened to freedom of choice? Why are you compelling me to stand for a flag and an anthem which supports a country that dehumanized my ancestors for hundreds of years?
I need to follow the direction of that gentlemen I saw at the football game. Take a stroll to the rest room or to a hallway and say a prayer.