When we place our hands over our hearts and recite the pledge to flag and country what exactly are we swearing allegiance to? As Americans we take pride in our country and often wear our patriotism proudly, but have you ever stopped to think what it might mean if the flag and the country it represented stopped symbolizing liberty and justice for all? Would you still swear allegiance to that flag?
I watched a re-run of Star Trek: The Next Generation a while back. In this particular episode the crew of the Enterprise-D finds itself stuck in a time loop which culminates in the destruction of the ship and the death of everyone on board. With every iteration a feeling of deja vu comes over the crew and they begin to sense that something is wrong. Eventually, they discover that they are stuck in a repetitive loop and find a way to send a message through to the next loop and they break free.
I hear a song. Its words flood me with hope and remind me of all the goodness in this world yet at times it speaks to me with the wordless beauty of inspiration. Not one sound but many intertwined through the air of history resting upon the wind of desire and filled with the passion of restless souls.
It is the sound of agony and delight, pain and pleasure, sorrow and joy. It is the crying of an orphaned child, the crack of a slave master’s whip, the screams of the innocent. It is the laughter of a daughter, the first breath of a free man, the battle cry of heroes .
Somewhere in the muggy heat of night out in the jungle a strange animal calls out. A young man slaps at a mosquito on his neck and adjusts the rifle on his shoulder. As he sits on watch staring out at the empty darkness his thoughts drift to home and his wife and small son. A smile comes to his face; a glimmer of comfort in the hell he now finds himself in. A pop of gunfire stirs the air and all around the night lights up with the red glow of flares and muzzle flashes. The young man stands up to yell for his squad and before the words reach his mouth a single bullet pierces his throat and he slumps down on the ground gasping for air clutching at the sky as if reaching for something that is not there. The horror and realization of his demise writes itself upon his now lifeless face as mortar fire tears whats is left of his body to pieces…
As a gun owner and a 2nd amendment advocate I am well aware of the battle going on in this state over the issue of gun rights. Particularly, the disconnect between the rural communities and urban centers regarding the issue of drug and gang related gun violence.
Up until this point in the debate over gun control the arguments have been dichotomous and confrontational between those arguing for less restriction and more liberty versus those arguing for more restriction and control of gun sales.
Gun owners and those that support less restrictive laws on gun ownership and the right to carry frame their argument based on Constitutional liberty and common sense but they stop short of offering real solutions to the ongoing epidemic of drug and gang related violence that plagues cities like Philadelphia. Conversely, the politicians from areas that have these problems assault the liberties of all citizens in this state without offering a workable solution to the problems they face. Meanwhile, lives continue to be cut short while the debate rages on between the two sides.
You open your eyes. You are looking up at the sky and see white clouds scattered across a pale blue background. Something’s wrong…you shake your head and look down to see that you are bleeding as the effects of momentary shock wear off. Tilting your head around you see others lying in pools of blood; some crying in pain, others staring up at that same blue sky with lifeless expressions. Memories of recent events flood into your mind and you see the flare of gunfire and the panic of innocent victims running in terror. It was just a short time ago but now seems like a lifetime away as a cold feeling begins to creep under your skin. “My son, my daughter…where are they?!” you scream out in your mind but it comes out as only a gasp barely audible in the ensuing chaos. You try desperately to stand but fall back down and roll slightly to one side and see every member of your family lying quietly next to you. A single tear rolls down your cheek and before you can even feel the first pangs of grief your mind goes blank and the cold feeling envelops you.
We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
There is such beauty in those words and a simple truth that is often overlooked. In one paragraph we can see the entire purpose for which our ancestors rose up and made themselves free men and the thinking that influenced the inception of the greatest nation the world has ever seen.