Stand up? Or take a knee?
Much has been said this past week about the flag and national anthem as it pertains to what is taking place before NFL games. In fact, this topic hit such a nerve we are seeing similar displays at other sporting events.
Americans on both sides of the issue feel passionate regarding their point of view and their ability to proclaim what they believe.
And you know what?
For those not familiar with the controversy (in case you're living under a rock or don’t pay attention to the news – which might not be so bad of an idea these days) here’s a simplified breakdown of what occurred.
Certain NFL players, starting with Colin Kaepernick last season, took a knee when the national anthem was played in response to the social injustices occurring against minorities. At the time Kaepernick said:
“I am not going to stand up and show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.”
Other players followed his lead and the protests continued throughout the season.
An immediate backlash against Kaepernick began by those who believed taking a knee during the national anthem disrespects the flag and the men and women who proudly serve to defend our nation.
An ongoing and spirited debate took place but when the football season ended so largely did much of the discussions.
As the 2017 season started things ratcheted back up when the President of the United States at a campaign rally in Alabama said:
“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son if a b*** off the field right now, out, he’s fired.”
With few exceptions, NFL teams came together by locking arms and taking a collective knee this past weekend in support of free speech and the right to, well, take a knee.
Those that contend that taking a knee is a slap in the face to not only our soldiers but also to what America stands for became even more incensed. Talk of boycotting the NFL is routinely discussed.
Both sides have dug in and nobody knows what comes next.
What I do know is we need to find a collective resolution that is neither standing up or taking a knee. We need a solution in the space between both displays. This is not a right or wrong issue, a left or right problem. This is an American dilemma. One that must be solved. And while many people want to point a finger and blame the President, or blame players like Colin Kaepernick in truth we all need to turn our collective fingers back at ourselves.
I’ve spent a lot of time (probably too much) reading comments on social media about this issue. And while there are valid points made most of what I’ve read is simply name calling, finger pointing and pure vitriol directed at the person with an opposing view. Reacting in such an unconstructive manner will never lead to a solution.
Most of us realize our current leadership in Washington will not show us the way out of our predicament. And to be honest they shouldn’t have to. It’s up to us, the average citizen to lead the way and exemplify how to act towards one another. In a way, I find it silly that I even have to type that. Didn’t we all learn this lesson when we were kids (or was it just me?).
Let’s be clear. Both sides have every right to state what they believe. Men and women have died for centuries to bequeath us that privilege. However, just because you have the right to do something doesn’t mean you should do it in every instance.
Americans can take a knee and peacefully protest during the flying of our flag and singing of our national anthem.
They can find that behavior an insult to all the flag represents.
But then what?
What does either side accomplish?
We should be taking that energy and trying to find a solution. One that works for all of us. We can start by talking to each other in a kinder voice. Listen to “the other side” when they speak and consider their opinion instead of merely shoving ours back at them. American’s must come together. Throw out the politics and rhetoric and find an answer that works from the space between both viewpoints.
Our future as a nation depends on it.