What Does The US Flag Stand For?

There was a post the other day on my regular Fbook thread that rhetorically asked “What does the US flag stand for?” I am sharing my reply.

What does the US flag stand for? As far as all of the values of democracy and rights values are concerned we could more be flying a Swedish or French or any number of sovereign flags that would be better representative. Values these days seem to be changing every day and becoming more and more difficult to name and provide evidence. At this point, with our very uncertain future unfolding before us, the US flag may only be representing a certain defined physical territory that our government believes it is legitimately allowed to control and defend. Our fifty states and our several colonies. (The mere fact that we still have colonies, Puerto Rico being the major, immediately throws our supposed values into question). I believe that our real values are reflected in the way we live. We may have a good selection of moral values on paper but they only apply to those who have the money or other means to access them. It was set up this way from the very beginning (using our constitutional convention in 1788 as the beginning) when access to rights, security, comfort was tied to citizenship and private property of which wealth alone is a major part. From day one money and power swamped democracy.

Sure, anybody can be president. Anybody that has a couple billion dollars to spend. And that corollary applies to everything, all across the board. Housing, health care, food and all the necessities. “American” values are shared by only a portion of the American population. At the moment it isn’t clear what the values are of the American people. I’m sure what immediately comes to mind are national politics but the question of values is just as much up for affirmation or rejection in Vermont’s gubernatorial race. A Republican incumbant who has already demonstrated time and again that he will do everything possible to block any legislation that is focussed on removing inequalities and a candidate of whom it is clearly understood will not block any such legislation. Pundits are predicting (and pushing) for the Republican who will protect the status quo of inequality. With this in mind, how then do we describe or characterize the values of Vermonters? The greatest failure of education in the US (and perhaps most places in the world) was the deliberate choice to not teach the difference between the way we officially SAY we live and the way we actually do. And so, two hundred years down the line we have almost an entire society of people that cannot tell the difference between fact and fiction.

Comments | 1

  • Fact versus folklore

    You nailed it in your last couple sentences — we Americans believe in lots of good, old fashioned American values like fairness and doing the right thing, but our country doesn’t seem to follow any of them. I would guess this is because we the citizens are either manipulated into supporting bad things or cowed into not holding our leaders accountable.

    I think this might be because humans can hold multiple opposed beliefs at the same time. We can say we’re for peace but support wars. Support the environment but not if it means we can’t do what we want on our property. Support “the poor” but not if it makes taxes go up. I guess that would be more on the order of selfish values.

    I have this theory that values have to be formed or you simply won’t have any. If you don’t have values, you have to figure out every situation as it comes along. Most people form a basic set of values like “broccoli: bad” and “don’t back talk your teacher or else you’ll get in trouble,” but higher values such as “treat others the way you’d like to be treated” or even “don’t steal” are harder to instill unless kids are taught why such values matter.

    Talk about a big subject! Values checking…

Leave a Reply