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America, Love it or Leave It

By Ron Signore

It is funny how when you get older, you either gain perspective to something, or change your perspective. Growing up, the whole stereotype when hearing, ‘America, love it or leave it,’ wrang very differently than it does today. There was an evolution to my perspective on that phrase that I keep peeling back.

As a younger mind, I would hear that phrase and pretty much agree. It was a very superficial belief as it turns out, because like everything else, we have seen a reorganization to our stereotypical ideologies. When you are young, you grow up going to school, saying the pledge, learning patriotic songs, and boasting how we live in the greatest country in the world. Like every other place on Earth, we had our flaws, but nothing that would take that national pride away from us.

Going through school, you can start to see minds develop and show their instinctual beliefs. We were programmed at an early age to believe any action that may be perceived as going against the flag, er go, the way things were, that the offenders should just deal with it and move on. This is where the phrase would make its first known appearance in our youth. However, as we climbed grades, we began being ‘taught’ less in this area and replaced it with more critical thinking about what everything means.

The famous example, as I am sure taught to most, is the burning of the American flag. I suppose it was either that or understanding your first amendment rights but let’s stick with this for now. It seemed unfathomable that an American would do this, as we were pounded with images of foreign nations showing hate for our country. This scenario really opened many eyes on the multiple views this action could have. Though a majority had a natural instinct and reaction of being offended and of how the action should be illegal, the teacher would always kind of lead you down a path to think a little more.

After some time, some realized that there really is no law saying one cannot do that. Now, the reaction of course in either circumstance drew people to the conclusion that at first glance, it does seem like a disloyal act. Kids…what do they know? This is where the onion began peeling back for many, and the dive into the first amendment either drew critical thinkers or moral hunters.

I would even say that up until the last decade or so, I didn’t respect the act of burning the flag. I did believe the treasonous image it portrayed, almost in a light of ungratefulness. While I felt America was the greatest country in the world, the reality really became that I did not agree with the act, but I did believe in the right one had to do so. The mental, and sometimes verbal, response had always been stereotypical ‘America, love it or leave it,’ to an extent. You do not like it here, go ahead and get out. Who is stopping you?

However, in the past 15 years or so, I have seen a whole new United States. Elements that were taught to me through history books, or scientific progressions, especially in healthcare, were exciting, I saw more angles of views that I had ever really seen in my lifetime. The reality was that coming out of college in 2009, the natural human instinct looked for blame for what was happening in the economy, or our continued presence in the Middle East as a result of 9/11. The excitement was that we were indeed progressing witnessing our first African American President, and being challenged by someone who selected a woman for his VP running mate. But the history books came to life. I started noticing a more vocal and visual racial divide. I always had that feeling of history repeating itself. I started seeing the things many would fight over, such as gun rights, or gay rights, and really couldn’t figure out the problem. That is to say, why there were the battles in the first place.

After Sandy Hook, which was already way too late of an event, how was there even a consideration to not have gun reforms? Now here we are 12 years later dealing with school and mass shootings on a sickly regular basis. It is numbing. Allowing a bakery to refuse making a wedding cake for a gay wedding, or overturning Roe V. Wade, just added to the seemingly dehumanizing actions of so many of our neighbors. As if that weren’t all bad enough, and believe me, there are many more instances we could list, we have anything else related to the MAGA movement. This notion of white Christian nationalism mimicking something out of a sick WWII era Germany has plagued the reality of facts, and in many cases, common sense.

Driven by a world of conspiracies, we keep finding ourselves in an alternate reality clashing with the real world. These people want American to be what it was, not what it is, and certainly not what it could be as progress ensues. It dawns on me that there is a lack of knowledge and understanding to what America was founded to be, and what it has evolved to in many ways from a human rights perspective.

Now more than ever, I believe in a notion of ‘America, love it or leave it,’ but it feels like a completely different reason why. America was founded to progress and propel us ahead in every instance of life led by the independence allowed to us. In 2024, we still have significant racism and antisemitism raging through our everyday lives. We still have people fighting against equal rights for the LGTBQ community. Why? It shows nothing but a view that there is a belief anyone that is different in any way is less human, and not good enough to afford the protections guaranteed to them under our flag.

The reality is that the perception was the wrong side of people was holding us down or preventing a truly great America. American going forward has an opportunity to appease these bigots if they reelect Bunker Boy. The rights afforded to anyone not deemed part of the MAGA race runs the risk of harm. I want to keep America moving forward. I want it to be a welcoming place to all of our citizens. I want America to be what it was supposed to be, continuing to lead the world in all of these areas. We have fallen behind, and it is the MAGA mindset that is holding us back. They don’t like evolution in any way apparently.

We do not want America to be what it was, we want it to be better than it is. Our only hope for that is to ride the blue wave in November. If the red doesn’t like it, they can leave it.

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