You’re angry, we get it.
This may come as a surprise to many in the millennial and post millennial (Gen Z) demographic. But there was actually a time when you could disagree with someone without degrading and dehumanizing them. I know…it’s shocking.
Let me invite you to take a look into the distant past of…the 20thcentury. A time when the most radical of their era, the 1960’s hippies would gather to do… well, whatever it was that hippies do.
Yet they still played the national anthem before Woodstock.
A time when there was no race to see who could show their disdain for our flag in the most outrageous and reprehensible way possible on a daily basis.
It was back in the days when opposing viewpoints would argue their point and pound their fists and make their case on the merits, without seeing who could hold their opposition in the highest degree of condescension.
As someone who is fascinated by what motivates those in leadership positions, I make it a point to attempt to see an issue from the viewpoint of those I don’t agree with. I am convinced that it’s a healthy way to engage in debate and often an effective tool in finding common ground and solving problems.
But I am apprehensive about where we are going now.
Celebrities and athletes now compete with each other to see who can espouse a greater hatred of the United States. If someone burns a flag, the next one will stomp on it or spit on it. When one of them says they hate our nation the next says they don’t just hate America, they loathe America!
The level of vitriol has risen to the point that many don’t even know what the “protest” is all about anymore. It’s now just a performance to see who can be the most radical and destructive. For reasons that are beyond me, all that hate is somehow actually celebrated by a segment of society.
People who at casual glance seem like well-adjusted adults show their moral compass by video recording a police officer’s death from a few feet away rather than render aid and try to save him.
And when a crazed gunman opens fire in a neighborhood, hatred of people they have never met prompts residents to argue when they are advised to stay in their homes to avoid gunfire.
Don’t get me wrong, I get that there are those who feel marginalized and do not respect anyone in a position of authority. Whether or not I agree with them, I get that there may be some valid reasons why they feel the way they do.
But when a police officer says, “There is a guy down the street shooting, get back/get down/get inside”, who thinks that is the most appropriate time to argue? To me it perfectly frames the desire to rebel at all costs.
We now have a “political protest movement” that not only feels that violence against those with opposing viewpoints is their right, but physically attacking reporters or anyone who witnesses their behavior is fair game as well, all while trying to legitimize themselves as individuals who are to be taken seriously.
A cursory look at the news will convince you that society has hit the pause button on the use of common sense. But to those who openly and eagerly display their disdain for our nation, let me point out a few indisputable facts:
- No other nation in the history of mankind has spent more money and spilled more blood to free oppressed people around the world decade after decade.
- No other nation dispatches its resources, its military, or its technology to all corners of the globe during a humanitarian crisis the way the United States has and does.
- No other nations accepts more immigrants into its borders on an annual basis than the United States. None. (Germany comes in 2nd, but if you add illegal immigration to the count no other country is even remotely close. -U.S. News & World Report 7/3/2018)
- No other nation sends financial foreign aid to countries around the globe in anywhere near the amounts that the U.S. does.
- And despite how anyone feels about the immigration crisis on our southern border, when you compare what the repercussions are for illegal border crossers in the United States versus those who violate immigration law in most other countries, we score pretty high.
Protesting and taking a stand to oppose perceived wrongs are engrained in the fabric of our nation from its earliest days. And no one I know will tell you that we are a nation without blemishes and scars, many that we are not proud of.
But whether it is slavery, labor rights, the suffrage movement, or Jim Crow, with time and effort we have always altered course to be on the right side of history. There is no reason to think that well-reasoned and impassioned efforts will not allow that to continue.
With that being said, violently destroying lives and property for no practical reason and using violence on the peaceful will not yield the results that political ideologues or anyone else is looking for.
Don’t like who is in The White House? In Congress? Banging the gavel in a courtroom? Wearing a badge in your town? No problem.
All those issues can be addressed…without burning anything down.
Sit down at the table of civilized society and become a part of the solution. Adrian Cronauer, the inspiration for the movie “Good Morning, Vietnam” said:
“Our flag is not just one of many political points of view. Rather the flag is a symbol of our national unity.”
So to those millennials who are still reading, we get it. You long for change. But anger alone won’t achieve anything.
I hope that you can wrap your head around the fact that this is your chance; to step up and show the rest of the world that yours is a generation of substance that has something to contribute to the national debate besides stomping on an American flag and clamoring for more free stuff.
You took a knee and made your point. Now it’s time to get on your feet. There is work to be done.
-Chief Eric Kaiser
Eric Kaiser is the Chief of Police for the Jourdanton (TX) Police Department and a Master Texas Peace Officer. He is also a member of Generation X.