I am sitting here in the dark, typing my column because the electricity went out during a thunderstorm. It’s funny how dependent we are on modern comforts like electricity, air conditioning and the internet. Why is it I still flip the light switch on when I enter a room when the electricity is off? It is because we are so conditioned to the idea that it is always there? I am very aware that it is a first world problem and that I have no idea how lucky I am to live here in the United States.

We enjoy comforts, freedoms and rights that the rest of the world can only dream of. In fact, in many places they cannot dream of them because the idea of our everyday lives is so far beyond their everyday life that they cannot comprehend what we have. We live in the lap of luxury as compared to most other places in the world.

That is why it is a real head scratcher to me when I see people complain about injustices in the United States. I am sure there are some that need to be rectified, but for the most part I think our alleged injustices are just further proof of how good we have it and how quickly it could all go away if we do not cherish and protect what we have.

I am not sure why we give actors and athletes so much credibility when it comes to social causes. I am also baffled as to why one would kneel during the national anthem in protest of some perceived social injustice. I understand it is their right, a right they have because they were privileged enough to have been born in one of the few countries where they could protest in such a way. I also fully support their right to do so. However, I do not agree, and I do not support their actions.

First, I am not sure why we put so much weight on the opinion of an actor or athlete who, at very most, is my equal when it comes to knowledge of the real world. In many cases, we are talking about an individual who has been protected, coddled and insulated from the world around them and really has no idea about the cause they are championing. Personally, I put more stock in the opinions of those of us who are going to work outside of the entertainment world every day, but that is just my opinion and it is worth the same as theirs.

Aside from that, I do recognize that they have the right to speak their mind and they have the right to do so in the manner they choose. I also have the right to not agree with them and to completely disagree with the way they go about expressing their opinion. That is the right that each one of us have because we live in the United States under the very flag they protest.

I find it hard to understand how one can turn their back on the institution represented by the flag that grants them the right to speak their mind. I think they are misguided, and I hope it is a simple case of them not fully understanding their actions. The flag they are turning their back on is the very symbol of the great nation that affords them the right to not be persecuted for their ideas and beliefs.

The freedom to explore new ideas, to bring injustices to light and to debate those things is what our country was built on and is why we are one of the greatest societies the world has ever known, and it should be protected. That concept goes both ways and it also protects my right to question their method and motivation. We need to have some tough conversations about our future, but in having those conversations, we cannot turn our back on our history and those who sacrificed everything to give us those rights.

The bottom line is that we live in the greatest society and the greatest democracy the world has ever known and we take it for granted. We need to guard against complacency and a sense of entitlement. We are blessed to have the freedoms we all enjoy, and they are not something we should take lightly. We don’t have any idea how good we have it.

We live in a nation with unprecedented freedoms and rights. We have a standard of living and a lifestyle most of the world cannot even fathom and that is because of the men and women who have sacrificed before us. In that sacrifice and tumult, there are things that were not right, but that struggle is what makes us great. That is what the flag stands for and ultimately why we should be proud to be a citizen of the United States and why the flag, our national anthem and this great nation should be respected no matter what side of an issue you are on.

Glenn Brunkow is a fifth-generation farmer in the Northern Flint Hills of Pottawatomie County in Kansas. He was a county Extension agent for 19 years before returning to farm and ranch full time. He can be reached at glenn.brunkow@midwestmessenger.com.