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trying to put into words what’s going on in our country & how the actions of another affect us all…not easy; but necessary.

as you probably already know, a marginal quarterback on a bad team made a statement by sitting down during the national anthem of a preseason football game.  for the record, he did this for the previous 2 games & no one noticed.  also noted on the record, this young man’s outspoken nature on issues of social justice are well documented on his twitter & instagram accounts.  [no, i’m not going to give you all the links, you know how the internet works]

for a moment, let’s set aside weather or not we agree with his action & consider his message, his protest.  what is he protesting?  his assertion is that the words we sing & pledge do not represent the nation we currently live in.  and i’m aware of the fact that the songs & the pledges we make call us, as a nation, to an ideal & a better way.  so when this athlete makes a statement by sitting down what he’s saying, through words he’s later give,  [my paraphrase] we’ve missed the mark.  the inequality that exists in this country is real.

freedom defended & lived out

many, many people have said that for him to not stand during the national anthem is a direct disrespect to those that serve to defend & provide that freedom.  so the qb said that his protest in no way is a disrespect to those in the capacity of freedom protectors.  i think it matters what those in that service have said about the protest.  yes, there have been many that have said it’s offensive to them & the job they have.  but there have been many others that have said, openly, that the freedom they protect is the very freedom that allows him to protest.  let’s remember, this was not a violent outburst; it wasn’t even, at the start, verbal; it simply was an objection to the inequity that exists in our country.  additionally, the minute we’re telling someone how they can protest & what they can or cannot say – that’s no longer freedom.

suffering’s voice

there has been some debate about whether or not a wealthy athlete should have anything to say about suffering & those that are on the bottom.  the idea that because he’s rich, & lives in the pretend world of athletics, and doesn’t understand suffering & struggle, so therefore; “go play your games & shut up.”  the approach baffles me.  in the world at large it’s understood that those who have a platform [wealth, fame, power] should, at some level, use it to speak up for those who have not.  in this country especially, the poor, abused & used have no voice.  we don’t listen to someone who’s down & out.  so it is the job of those who have to speak up for those who have not.  this is not just a “good thing to do as a good person”, but this is a biblical principle.  your life isn’t just about you, and at some level; regardless of position & power, you should pour your life into the lives of others.

“he should have done it differently”

this is something that i’ve heard, you probably have too.  “if he was going to protest, he should have used a different method.”  what should have been the “different method”?  and even in choosing a different way to protest or bring attention to the issues, would it have been as effective?  the road to change beings with conversation & that is what’s been happening lately.  i’ve then heard some say things like, “his message is getting lost in all the conversation about the protest itself.”  if we’re too willing to talk about the protest instead of what the protest was about, that’s on us.  we’re the problem then.  that leads me to this…

the biggest problem

this is my opinion & i’ve not heard much else said about this, but here’s what i think is at the root of our nation.

we don’t want to talk about racial tension & inequality.  we’ll debate about who’s right & who’s wrong.  we’ll talk about guns & police brutality.  we’ll even try to talk about the politics that surround this issue.  but when it comes to racial & gender inequality we will talk circles around it, distracting ourselves with peripheral issues that may or may not be contributing factors.  they may just be things that distract & dilute issues at play.  this is not good!

listening in the midst of disagreement

this is the hardest part.  congratulations for making it this far in the article, i suppose that there are some who may have rushed to the comments section or have found the unlike/unfriend buttons by now.  and if you decide to unfriend/unfollow/delete/rail against that’s fine.  you’re entitled to your opinion & subsequent action.  but this last part is really important:

dialogue is hard because it requires us to listen to the other side before we jump in & try to change their opinion.  to truly hear what’s happening behind the words.

the book of james [bible] speaks to this idea strongly:

"everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry" [james 2:19]

man this is hard!  to be willing to listen to someone that you are certain you don’t agree with.  our wheels are greased on this because of the political we find ourselves in.  we find ourselves primed & ready to pounce the minute that someone speaks.  we’ve found an issue or two we agree with & that becomes our point to make.  and we’ve stopped listening & instead are looking for a break in the conversation to speak our mind; finish reading, but not digesting the content, instead racing to the keyboard to get our response on-line.

patriotism is a delicate & valuable thing.  & when it’s challenged we want to push back; and we should. but we should also remember that the founding fathers believed in an ideal of what it meant to be a nation; where privilege isn’t dependent upon social status or wealth, where speaking up should not be censored simply because we don’t like the message or method, where dialogue matters & challenges to the system are in our roots.

so listen well, think hard & speak with wisdom…

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