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By the time this is published schools around here will be on their second day of classes and the rest of us will still be enjoying summer. Both my loyal readers know that I have this thing about starting school before Labor Day and can’t resist reinforcing the idea that summer is too short as it is.

And, for the record, I’ve also been known to be in the minority on a lot of other issues so let’s see where we end up this week.

Like you, I’ve been watching all the nationalist patriotic fever that has been manifesting itself lately and it has given me pause, to say the least, because as I recall the Lord’s Ten Commandments indicate that Americans might be engaged in worshiping graven images.

For those of you who haven’t found time to review the Ten Commandments here’s the first one: ’Thou shall have no other Gods before me. You shall not make for yourself a graven image or any likeness of anything that in heaven above, or this is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth, you shall not bow down to them or serve them; for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of that fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.’

So let’s apply this to all the hoopla of kneeling before our flag during the national anthem then excoriating those who are brave enough to express disdain with issues that our country has engaged in. Could our flag be a graven image similar to the golden calf that was created during Moses' absences? Or have I just committed a sacrilegious act by disagreeing with those who seem to worship our flag?

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The notion that such an act is unpatriotic bemuses me in the sense that those of us who understand the Constitution under which we have agreed to seek a more perfect union where our government is run by and for its citizens understand that all of us are entitled to participate in its formation. As such, the Bill of Rights applies to all citizens not just those in the majority. It's a messy process but up until recently it’s worked quite well.

We the people does not mean that all of us will agree with what the majority of us think should be done. Rather, we the people will differ from what our elected leaders do or say and we will not be punished for expressing our difference, but that’s not what our present leader is doing. He’s berating those who disagree with him and demanding that we follow him or face the consequences of his wrath. I, for one, think that’s not only wrong but it creates emotional wedges that exacerbate hate.

It seems to me that it’s natural for 300 million people to have differences; thus forming a more perfect union requires that we the people tolerate differences. And those who feel that folks who think differently should be punished for expressing themselves are about as anti-American as you can get.

The United States of America is more than just a flag or national anthem. Most of us understand that if we reduce ourselves to a song and piece of cloth we aren’t much of a country; patriotism requires more than this.

Patriotism requires vigilance and the strength to right wrongs and since our flag is a symbol of our freedoms we do have to be concerned about it becoming a graven image -- and that’s all I have to say about that.

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Dan Ulmer is a parent, grandparent, as well as a retired teacher, counselor, politician, lobbyist, public employee, nonprofit executive and opinionated citizen who believes that we need to do what we can to leave the world better off than we found it.

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