Nationalism put simply is love for one’s country. This can be demonstrated in many different ways, and it all depends on what country you are from. For the United States of America, you can display nationalism by staying informed on politics and making the effort to vote in each and every election for which you are eligible. Or you can root hard for the various United States national teams as they compete in international competitions such as the Olympics or the World Cup.

But the biggest way that most Americans display their nationalism is to honor the American flag. For many sporting events, we are encouraged to stand for the flag, put our right hands over our heart, and sing the national anthem. And at least for Americans, there is nothing more patriotic than that.

Which brings us to the dilemma of today. In fact, this has been ongoing for many years already and it all started with Colin Kaepernick, a (former) NFL quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers. A few years back he decided to kneel during the national anthem which played before games, rather than stand and respect the flag. He did it to protest racial inequality, especially when it came to police brutality, and many other NFL players started following suit.

And it became a movement. A movement so big in fact that President Trump tried to do whatever possible to get them to stop, including calling for the NFL owners to fire their employees who behaved in such a way that disrespected everything America stood for.

At the surface, it can sure seem disrespectful, especially considering that there are other ways to protest that do not disrespect the flag, nor the veterans who continuously put themselves in harm’s way and fight for our freedom as Americans.

But the truth is that such protests have made racism and police brutality a national conversation. And there is real change occurring across the country, slowly but surely. I am without a doubt confident that people like Colin Kaepernick believe in American and what it stands for. But the truth is that just because a country does stand for something, it doesn’t mean that they are actually putting their money where their mouth is, so to speak.

You see nationalism is a great thing – but only when you really can be proud of the country that you are living in. If you blindly love everything about your country simply because it is your country, you have become a puppet. Now that’s not to say that you can’t maintain a certain sense of love and admiration for all of the great things about this country. But if there are deficiencies in the country that you personally care about, you should be willing to take a stand and fight for change.

It may be unpopular to some. But it is infinitely better than simply standing by and doing nothing. And if you really think about it, taking a stand to create real change is much more nationalistic than people who simply “respect the flag”. Because you are actually helping to make your country, the one that you love so much, a better place for all.