Take a lesson from Rome on civil protests
Since I began writing these articles, I have always tried to avoid any reference to current events which have any possible tone of political divisiveness. This week, I would ask that you indulge me and allow for me to share some insight into my thoughts regarding civil discourse, specifically at public events.
There are actual laws and guidelines which articulate how we, as citizens, pay respect to our flag, whether it is how we fly it in our yards or how we dispose of it once it is no longer serviceable.
Having served in the United States Marine Corps and now serving with the Army National Guard, you can imagine that I have some very distinct views on what is transpiring at sporting events around our country. I have also served my community for close to 25 years with the purpose and mission of protecting each and every person’s constitutional rights. My emotions have ranged as I have reached within myself to make sense of it.
I should disclose that I am not a big fan of football. I have never played the sport as I was too busy on the farm to engage in any sport. I last saw a Green Bay Packers game in its entirety in 1996. I know they are all great teams and provide a much-needed pastime for our communities. I honestly can’t sit still that long and can’t justify spending time on something I cannot impact. My project list is just too extensive.
While I feel with every fiber of my body that our flag deserves the utmost respect, as it represents the sacrifices of the many men and women who fought under it throughout our nation’s history, it is history that has provided me with another perspective.
America as a democratic republic was established by using many of the principles and foundations given to us by ancient Rome. The Roman Empire was one the world’s first true democracies. At its pinnacle, it was the most powerful country in the world, much like our own. It provided it citizens with great privileges and luxuries much like our own. They reveled in games played in some of the largest coliseums ever built. The game’s gladiators were heroes to many.
The Roman Empire’s demise did not come from an outside force invading its walls, at least not initially. It was first weakened from within. As the decades passed, the government became unresponsive to its citizens and the citizens became apathetic to their government.
As this disconnect grew, laws were made that undermined the very fabric of the democracy. While all this was happened the games played on as a distraction to what really mattered — the republic.
To the best of our knowledge, no gladiator of this era called attention to the issues that impacted their society. The games played on. In fact, the games became more elaborate to further distract and fill the need to escape the ever-declining state of the nation.
Eventually, the government structure evolved to where civil discourse was no longer a right or an option.
We are now, and I hope that we always will be, the greatest nation in the world representing all that is good in mankind. Whether it is a football player, college student, or any other member of our country calling attention to what they perceive is an injustice, we have an obligation to allow for that expression.
I do not condone violence as any part of this expression, nor do I feel it productive to destroy the dignity of anyone just because we are on different sides of an issue. Those who would protest now have a greater obligation to follow through on their actions and take part in meaningful dialogue, and actual sacrifice on their part to move these various social issues forward.
We have an amazing system of government that allows for any adult citizen to put his or her name on a ballot and join in on this wonderful experiment called democracy. It is ours to sustain or destroy. Let’s all work to sustain it for sake of our children and their futures.
Matt Joski is Kewaunee County Sheriff.
This article originally appeared on Wisconsin: Take a lesson from Rome on civil protests