Today's observance of Flag Day is an opportune time to reflect on what our flag symbolizes.
The Pledge of Allegiance to our flag is a recognition of "the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible with liberty and justice for all."
Some recent trends, however, indicate divisiveness is threatening our national unity.
Among those trends are:
• The persistence of discord. Recent news stories reflect division, largely along racial lines. Incidents include: "Black lives matter" demonstrations following deaths of black men by law enforcement officers; reports of continued racial disparity in traffic stops; and, most recently, a white police officer pulling his gun on a group of black teens at a pool party.
• The culture of self. Writing about a recent trip abroad, Lewis W. Diuguid, a member of The Kansas City Star's editorial board, lamented the "selfie sensation" as another technological innovation "further separating human beings from what should be our shared humanity."
In a column published in Thursday's News Tribune, Diuguid characterized this "culture of self" as "a time of declining social capital and a retreat from others with whom people used to share meals at dinner parties, enjoy memberships in social clubs, play cards or vacation together, or just sit and chat with neighbors on the front porch."
• The growth of outrage: In a separate op-ed published on Page 11A of today's print edition, Bloomberg View columnist Ramesh Ponnuru references what has been described as the "outrage industry" by authors Mary Katharine Ham and Guy Benson in their book, "End of Discussion."
Ponnuru wrote: "The authors don't speculate about why outrage is a growth industry, but others have. Some point to the rise of social media: Mobilizing vitriol has never been cheaper. Others point to the decline in the social force of religion, on the theory that a new set of taboos is replacing an older one. Perhaps part of the explanation is that our campuses are full of people brought up to treasure the sanctity of their feelings. And the left has been emboldened by recent political victories and demographic trends."
Selfishness, intolerance and, in some cases, arrogance perpetuate the culture of self and jeopardize our shared unity.
United is the operative word in United States of America. Each of us is part of the social, educational and governmental fabric that weaves through communities, states and country.
Today, on Flag Day, consider not only what our flag symbolizes for our nation, but your role, participation and contribution to our shared future.