It seems to me we are too easily divided and incredibly naïve. I’m saddened when I see people I love and respect spew hate and derision towards others simply because they have failed to listen and are carried off by sound bites meant to coax toward a bias.
The woman at the well was offended by Jesus asking her to get water…Jesus took a knee. She was put off by his question of worship…Jesus took a knee. She was shocked by his assertion of her sin…Jesus took a knee. Jesus pointed out where she was missing the truth and it changed her life because she listened.
What if we reframed the entire #takeaknee issue?
What if—rather than creating a false division where you are either Anti-American or Anti-Racism—we said our flag is an ideal (representing all we seek to be as a Nation)?
But, like all ideals, we are not there yet. When we love our country but have grown dull or desensitized to an ideal we should otherwise uphold, we need someone to point it out. So then, if taking a knee is a reminder that “Liberty and JUSTICE for all” has not been realized by some, can’t we reframe it as patriotic?
The Boston Tea Party was seen as treason, the Civil Rights marches were dismissed as riotous, the Vietnam protests were youthful rebellion. And yet, they were all just. Looking back at those events, it’s clear that “We the people” needed to be made uncomfortable in order to to awaken us to pursue the ideals of our Flag.
Race in America is a real issue and it is not going away. When we dismiss athletes as spoiled millionaires we no longer see them as human beings. Don’t we want athletes to transcend just being paid gladiators? When they have the courage to take a stand at the risk of being black-balled (Colin Kaepernick), shouldn’t we admire their courage? Kaepernick is not Anti-America, but he is concerned about justice for blacks shot and killed in circumstances that didn’t warrant a shooting. Is this a bad thing?
The fact that Kaepernick started this over a year ago and the conversation it caused is still going is a testament to how badly we need to have it. Had he gone about it in a nice, civilized “productive” way we would have dismissed it and gone back to business as usual.
Polarizing social media posts are divisive. Listening and thinking through the issues is what is necessary. We have a race problem in America. White privilege is a real thing—even if it is hard to accept and understand. Until we seek to listen and dialogue respectfully with the desire to learn, we will continue to spew unhelpful soundbites that sell.
Take A Knee for Liberty and Justice for All. It doesn’t disrespect the flag. It just means that standing with my hand over my heart has become so automatic that I almost don’t really think about what I’m singing or saying. Take A Knee changes things up. Do I want JUSTICE for ALL? If there are some who aren’t getting justice, what does that ask of me as a patriot? Or, more importantly, as a follower of Jesus?
Words alone are useless. We must go beyond words and engage one another. Symbolic acts as well as overt action is what is required. When we fail to rally against racism we are far less patriotic than when we fail to stand for the pledge. It’s that simple.