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Daily Journal
     June 15, 2020      #91-167 KDJ

We need more than just a prayer to live on 

By Ron Jackson

Here we are mid-June. What a first half year it has been. To paraphrase the chorus from a Bon Jovi hit, “We are halfway through the year and we are literally living on a prayer.”

Six and a half months to go and we have undoubtedly secured our top two stories of the year and possibly the decade. What event could top an unrelenting international pandemic and a national protest the magnitude unlike any living American has witnessed? We do possibly have a presidential election this year that may prove historically interesting.

At the precise moment the rate of the number of COVID-19 cases seemed to slow down, a two-week long national protest kicked off. And as the protests dwindled, the number of virus cases coincidentally began to turn upward. The pandemic is once again the top news story of the day.

In the mean time we have a couple of old tried and true divisive issues getting an occasional mention. Racial discord is always an unfinished discussion. Two recent issues have conveniently resurfaced: Confederate symbolism and kneeling during the playing of the national anthem.

Efforts are under way to strike any reference to the confederacy from the public domain. Even in the south where its historical significance originated. Flags, monuments, statues and names associated with the losers of our biggest internal dispute are being removed, renamed or damaged. For what gain? How does erasing significant elements of our history benefit any of us?

Roughly three-quarters of a million soldiers died during our greatest division. It was settled. Both sides collected and created their heroes in the images as they perceived them. We should not forget second-place teams have heroes, too. While we may have been nationally and geographically reunified after the great war, we were and are still culturally and hopefully respectfully divided.

There is no need to continue debating the real meaning of the Confederate symbolism. There will never be a consensus to its meaning. Like beauty, the meaning of the confederate flag is in the eye of the beholder. Is it heritage or separatism? It should not matter to anyone who does not feel represented by it. The mere sight of confederate symbolism should not induce emotional hardship on anyone. And in all honesty, it doesn’t without the offended person’s consent.

The silly notion of wasting Congressional time renaming government institutions because it doesn’t represent all of America should cease. They are but simple representation of a moment in our history. We cannot make that part of our evolution go away by removing visual scars. Let the south portray its history as it needs. As long as it doesn’t start that, “The South shall rise again,” crap, we will be just fine. Now seeing the Confederate symbolism proudly displayed at a northern state capital building could make for some great break room discussion.

Even the true meaning of our national flag can and is often debated. What does it really stand for? Who does it really represent? How should one acknowledge it? All arguably subjective.

After a four-year pause, the topic of kneeling before the national anthem has resurfaced. Again, another useless discussion. The right to salute or protest the flag was established long ago. No American citizen requires the approval of any other American for their choice of public display towards the flag or anthem. Not even from those who feel they fought for our national symbolism and who may have forgotten they, too, fought for their fellow American’s right of expression. Even those they disagree with.

We are halfway there. Let’s find something substantive to argue about for the remainder of the year. Like which state has the best governor, is Santa making a list this year or should there be a second round of stimulus.

Maybe and hopefully, America is at a real crossroads of where we are headed. We can continue the path teetering on destruction or take the untraveled road towards a more ideal, unification.

Living on a prayer shouldn’t be all we got.

Ron Jackson can be contacted through the Daily Journal at editors@daily.com.

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