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Take 30 second to watch the related video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cHRlkSW9xEg

The United States is—contrary to what Donald Trump says—a great nation. Yet we are a flawed nation, too, when it comes to matters like the way we treat poverty (http://www.npc.umich.edu/poverty/,) childhood hunger, and mental illness (http://www.nami.org/Learn-More/Mental-Health-By-the-Numbers), to name just three topics.

Our nation is flawed if elderly people in the winter have to make choices involving how much they'll eat vs. how much they can afford to heat their apartments vs. how many of their medications they can afford to buy. We are flawed when we pay crap wages to our military men and women, subject them to terrible emotional and physical harm in wars being waged for dubious purposes, and then practically abandon them to deal on their own with post-service problems of homelessness (more than 50,000 veterans), mental illness and alcohol/substance abuse. (Go back and look at the Washington Post's story on the disgraceful conditions at Walter Reed Hospital.)

Let me make it clear that I am by no means saying everyone who transitions from military to civilian life has those problems; but even if it's just a hundred, they deserve more care and compassion than they receive. Here's one assessment of the extent of the needs of veterans: http://www.apa.org/about/gr/issues/military/critical-need.aspx


Here's another: http://www.endhomelessness.org/library/entry/fact-sheet-veteran-homelessness

Our flag symbolizes our values as a nation. But what happened to those values in the case of Freddie Gray, who died in the back of a police van that had six cops in it, yet none of them were charged in connection with his death from a broken back? (It must be he broke his own back.) What happened to our values when the thuggery of the Baltimore Police Department ran rampant? http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/investigations/bs-md-sun-investigates-0814-20160813-story.html

Should we ignore threats to our value of free speech? https://theintercept.com/2016/08/08/facebook-removes-potential-evidence-of-police-brutality-too-readily-activists-say/

As for Kaepernick's protest, the bigger question is this: How many people are not looking beyond what he said/did to consider the merit of his arguments? How many people are simply appealing to patriotism and stopping there? How many people are reacting to what Kaepernick said about race and saying, "Hey, not my problem," or "There's no racism in America"?

As I said, we are a great nation. But as a nation, we often do not live up to the values we espouse, especially as those ideals relate to the marginalized people among us. Debating what Kaepernick did and whether it disrespects the flag, America, the military, the police, etc., is a debate that will never end.

Maybe instead of criticizing Kaepernick, we should begin—each in her or his own way—addressing the areas where we fall short and show we can overcome them. What better way to show our values and strengths?

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Wish I'd Said It

Nota bene: “Fear has governed my life, if I think about it. ... I always feel like I’m not good enough for some reason. I wish that wasn’t the case, but left to my own devices, that voice starts speaking up.” – Trent Reznor

“I hate to say this, but not many people care what you do. They care about what you do as much as you care about what they do. Think about it. Just exactly that much. You are not the center of the universe.” — Laurie Anderson

"The path's not yours till you've gone it alone a time." – William Carlos Williams

“Filling this empty space constitutes my identity.” – Twyla Tharp

"My definition of peace is having no noise in my head." – Eric Clapton

"The wreckage of the sky serves to confirm us in delicious error." – John Ashbery

"We are all here by the grace of the big bang. We are all literally the stuff of the stars." – Dwight Owsley

"For my part, I know nothing with any certainty, but the sight of stars makes me dream." – Vincent van Gogh

"It is only with the heart that one can see right; what is essential is invisible to the eye." — Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

"Forget about being a perfectionist, because entropy always wins out in the end." – Darren Kaufman.

"Impermanence. Impermanence. Impermanence." – Garry Shandling

"Fame is a vapor; popularity an accident; the only earthly certainty is oblivion." – Mark Twain

"There is no realm wherein we have the truth." – Gordon Lish

"Actual life is full of false clues and sign-posts that lead nowhere." – E.M. Forster

“Some scientists claim that hydrogen, because it is so plentiful, is the basic building block of the universe. I dispute that. I say there is more stupidity than hydrogen, and that is the basic building block of the universe." – Frank Zappa

“I try to leave out the parts that readers tend to skip.” – Elmore Leonard

“The secret of being a bore is to tell everything.” – Voltaire

• Journal title and subtitle: Ian Hunter, “Man Overboard”

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