Before we get into this discussion, I want to make something very clear:
I disagreed with Collin Kaepernick when he wore socks with pigs dressed like cops on them.
He also lost me when he showed up at a press conference wearing a shirt with Fidel Castro on it. I have a hard time listening to your protest of perceived systemic abuse by our own government when you’re wearing a shirt that honors a man who systemically abused his own people. Not only do I disagree with that message, but you really can’t give your critics ammunition like that. It gives people an excuse not to listen to you.
A similar thing happened when he sat down during the playing of the Star Spangled Banner during a preseason game in 2016. There was backlash. A social media firestorm was unleashed. People didn’t bother to listen.
And his message – the hard truth about racial inequality in America – really has to be addressed. It needs to be tackled head-on. It is important to bring it into the light. Collin Kaepernick was certainly tone-deaf in these situations and wound up turning off the very people to whom he was attempting to communicate.
Collin Kaepernick met with Nate Boyer, a former Green Beret. Together, they came up with an alternative way to continue shining the light on the issue at hand, but in a more respectful manner. He could have chosen to remain seated. He could have chosen to turn his back on the flag, or hold up a newspaper, or pretend to sleep, much like a student section might when the opposing team is introduced at the beginning of a ballgame.
Because those student sections can be pretty crazy.
He could have done a number of things to intentionally disrespect the flag, our veterans, and our families. But he didn’t. He kneeled.
Because he listened to someone, he kneeled.
Now, we can go round and round about the appropriateness of kneeling versus standing. But I don’t think I had ever heard anyone say that kneeling is a sign of disrespect.
That’s when a tattooed man with big hair and darker skin chose to take a knee. And people lost their collective minds, refusing to even consider that someone might have an opposing viewpoint that is appropriate and needs to be said. Nobody wants to listen to the other “side” anymore. Everyone is making assumptions about everything regarding the entire #TakeAKnee movement. I wish people would just listen for once, instead of merely hearing what they assume they hear.
If we would simply slow down, be quiet, and really listen to what is being said, maybe we could actually work towards getting something accomplished that would actually work towards bringing us together instead of driving us further apart.
That probably makes me a dreamer. As my brother recently reminded me, Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel described our current situation quite perfectly in the song The Boxer: “Still a man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest.” And when we do that, we build our walls a little thicker. We dig our trenches a little deeper. And these “United” States of America become anything but.
I don’t want to say that the Great American Experiment has died. I don’t think we’re there yet. But we’re sure getting closer. As Abraham Lincoln wisely observed while quoting Jesus:
“A house divided against itself cannot stand.”
We are divided, friends. And our house feels a whole lot like a house of cards teetering on the edge of collapse. It’s like we’re waiting for that small, yet firm, breeze to come by and just wipe us out.
As my band director once reminded us, there’s a reason we have two ears and one mouth. So can we please sit down, shut up, and listen to the real concerns that are drowning in all of the excess superfluous noise?
You probably think I’m simply talking to the “other” side and not yours. You’re wrong. We’ve spent too much time
talking screaming past each other. And that hasn’t really worked, has it? So maybe we should try something else. Let’s try listening to each other for a change.
If Collin Kaepernick could do it, why can’t you? Why can’t I? Why can’t we?
You are welcome to share your opinion in the comments section. After all, the sharing of opinions is part of what has always made America great. That being said, any name calling or racist remarks will be deleted posthaste.