Embracing a little perspective

My heart hurts today. Truth be told, it has hurt all week.

My husband Edwin, a native of Puerto Rico, told me he talked to his grandmother, and this was the first time they’ve been able to get a call out to the United States since Hurricane Irma/Maria destroyed much of the area.

Edwin showed me pictures of his aunt’s house (where we stayed on our honeymoon) and another small beach house she owns on the water – which was completely gone. It was washed away by the might and anger of an unpredictable storm. The streets that we casually walked up and down for eight days, admiring the colorful lights yet simplistic beauty, were damaged by high waters. His grandfather’s restaurant that sat just a few blocks away was completely swept away during the tragedy that struck the island.

Everyone lost power, some have lost hope but even more importantly, many lost their lives.

I saw a news report after visiting my inlaws’ church on Sunday about a man who decided to open fire on a church of Christ service, killing a mother of two and injuring six others, including the minister. My heart sank. This is such an injustice.

I turned on the news this week to hear the discussion of the NFL and the topic of whether to stand or kneel.

Being a granddaughter and niece of a Marine and other military forces, I will always respect and cherish my freedoms – specifically, being able to stand at attention during the National Anthem and Pledge of Allegiance. But there are other issues at play here.

Do we even know the definitions of the words we are using today – honor, loyalty, injustice?

We have neighbors in Puerto Rico who literally do not have running water or food to eat, and our main prerogative on U.S. soil is to demand attention. This is the injustice? There is absolutely no relationship to injustice and our Old Glory! It is not about athletes, individuals or others, it is about sacrifice. Loyalty. Honor.

“I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” Francis Bellamy penned the Pledge in 1892. And that was what it was – a pledge for a patriotic school program. The Pledge served two purposes: to rekindle patriotism and heroic duty of the Civil War years, and to Americanize the foreigner.

This time, as any, is the time to be unified. This is the time to appreciate your neighbors and freedoms, sharing and showing hope and gratitude. This is the time to be giving of yourself, not demanding notice and attention.

This is the time to be worrying about the real problem, a problem that sits just off our land with millions of people reaching out their hands for help.

If kneeling should be the topic of conversation, let it be in prayer to our Lord to give us strength during this time of heartbreak and turmoil.

Thank God you are alive with free speech, but use it wisely. Do not forget who you are and where you came from. Love on your family today. Thank your active military and veterans for serving. Serve your neighbors. Keep your perspective on what is truly important: human life.

If I’m kneeling, it’s in prayer to thank God for his blessings.

Lauren Estes-Velez is a staff writer for the Hartselle Enquirer.

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