Unless you don’t do the Twitter or the Facebook or watch NFL games, you’ve probably noticed the national anthem protests are still going on. What started as one person kneeling has expanded into a weekly spectacle. What will they do next?? Heck, even the President is getting involved. Lines are drawn and the respective sides are fired up.
But, I’m not.
Look, I believe in justice and liberty perhaps more than most. I respect the sacrifice of soldiers present and past. And yet I don’t feel offended if someone chooses to kneel instead of stand during the national anthem. Am I dead inside or what? Why am I not mad?
I understand why it pisses some people off. I have the internet. I’ve seen the “EPIC” rants that “DESTROY” the other side. They usually go something like this:
“He’s just some whiny punk who was lucky enough to be born into the land of the free. He made his fortune using that freedom and now he’s sitting there dumping all over the flag and the people that made it all possible. Have some respect and humility you ungrateful jackass. You’re just a football player. Nobody cares about you and your stupid opinions so just stand up and shut up and learn how to throw the ball to the guys on YOUR team.”
Sound about right? Good. Let’s continue.
There are a few folks out there that try to pinpoint the source of their outrage a little better. These people claim they are not upset about the message. Rather, they are criticizing the methods. They say its the wrong time and place for a protest and its disrespectful. To those of you that claim your position is not based on the reasons for the protest but solely on the protest itself, I ask you this…
What if someone decided to do the same protest but for different reasons?
Let’s say their message was this:
“The US government does some good things but it also does a lot of terrible things that cause a lot of pain and suffering in the world. I love this country but I don’t worship this country. I prefer to use times of reflection like this to worship and give thanks to my god, and my god prefers that I kneel. So, if you have a problem with that, take it up with Him.”
Do you feel the same amount of disdain for this person?
I doubt it.
The reasons matter so don’t say they don’t.
Why Am I Not Mad?
I love where I’m from and the people and the history and my family and the opportunities this country gives me. But for the life of me, I don’t feel the same outrage as many of you. Believe me, I’ve thought about it and I’ve tried to get angry. I’ve tried to be offended, but it just plain doesn’t bother me.
So, I have to ask myself, why not?
I know it’s difficult with issues like this that really get the feels going, but let’s take a minute to calm down. Instead of blowing up and getting all emotional, let’s try to take a look at this from a rational point of view.
The flag is a symbol.
It’s much like a piece of artwork. Two people look at a painting on the wall and see two completely different things. In fact, if ten people look at the same thing, you might end up with ten different interpretations. Which one is right?
Whatever someone feels when they see the flag waving and the Star Spangled Banner playing is their interpretation. Some people see it as a representation of noble values such as peace, liberty, and freedom. Other people may see a sprawling empire hell bent on bending the world to its will.
What do you feel when you see the flag waving and the song playing? Do you feel a sense of pride and love and devotion? Okay, that’s cool.
However, I know there are people that don’t get the same feelings.
Instead, maybe they feel a sense of hypocrisy.
Can you expect someone who feels that way to show the same amount of respect as someone who gets the good feels? Should they just be expected to fall in line and do as everyone else in order to avoid pissing anyone off?
The Motivations Of The Participants Are Genuine
A man that makes a statement like Kaepernick doesn’t do it in a vacuum. The guy is not a complete moron. I’m sure he thought about it ahead of time. He knew that he would upset a certain demographic that also happens to be a huge percentage of the NFL fanbase. So, in order for him to know that and still do what he did he must’ve had some pretty strong feelings about the subject.
And whether you agree with his feelings or not, you at least have to consider that his motives are most likely genuine.
He didn’t threaten anyone or run his mouth. It wasn’t an obvious attempt to just bring attention to himself. It was just a man that saw a problem and tried to use whatever podium he had available to try to make a difference. I don’t have a problem with that.
The Actions Of The Participants Are Peaceful
Please tell me how someone kneeling during this ceremony affects your ability to respect and honor the tradition yourself?
Why do someone else’s legitimate feelings upset you so much? I could understand if they were dancing around and shouting obscenities and deliberately trying to disrupt the ceremony, but that’s not what’s happening.
They’re peacefully kneeling.
If that upsets you, you may have some serious anger issues. Try reading a book about positivity or doing some meditation. Or maybe you just need to turn off the internets for a little while and connect with some real people for a change.
What It Could Be
I’m glad that Americans in the past fought those that would seek to destroy us and the values we hold dear. I didn’t lay siege to Yorktown or storm the beaches of Normandy. I had nothing to do with that. I was just lucky enough to be born here and reap the benefits.
So, yes, honor the memory of our heroes, but don’t do it by worshipping the flag. The flag is just a symbol and symbols can change.
Instead, stop being angry and honor them by being a champion of the principles you claim it represents. This nation was founded on the principles of limited government, individualism, peace, tolerance, and free markets. Live by those principles and you will honor the people that sacrificed for them more than you ever could by standing and saluting a flag.
Oh by the way…
If you like well thought out commentary on the divisive political issues of the day, try listening to the Jason Stapleton Program. I’m not affiliated with the show in any way. I’m just a big fan of what they’re doing and I think that if more people listened, we’d live in a more tolerant, free, and peaceful world, so check it out! (unless you’re easily offended…in that case, I recommend you try this show instead)