My heart aches as I watch the acrimony being displayed amongst the people I deeply care about in the land I love the most. Deep, firm divisions are being drawn because of athletes engaged in a battle over equality and justice. I’ve been profoundly disappointed in the number of people that seem to be shouting hateful and hurtful things at each other, rather than looking to be healers and a helpers. Yesterday, I saw people posting “I stand for the flag, kneel at the cross.” Thank goodness, because if people think about the values represented by those two symbols and act accordingly, we will be just fine.
To be clear, I do not agree with the kneeling protests during the National Anthem. I would love the opportunity to talk with all athletes participating in this for an hour. I think with care and logic, I might be able to get them to change course. I’d talk to them about how even they don’t mean it as disrespect to veterans and those currently in military, many take it as disrespectful. I’d talk to them about the many military families angered by their display. I’d try to get them to understand the people who have relocated multiple times, lost loved ones, spent holidays without them, raised kids alone, and seen their loved ones physically and spiritually wounded. I’d try to explain how important the flag and national anthem are to many of these people who give so much to the rest of us. I’d talk to them about Jackie Robinson, and how he was disciplined and didn’t respond to hecklers or people that called him a “sonofabitch.” I’d talk to them about how last weekend actually drove the people they need on their side further away from them. I’d talk to them about communicating more often and more clearly the goals they hope to achieve, so that middle America could understand. I’d talk to them about the veterans who gave up their youth and innocence to come home to an unwelcoming country and be scorned. I’d talk to them about the soldiers who sweat and shake at loud noises and crawl on the ground during lightening storms. I’d talk to them about different ways they could draw the same attention to their grievances without doing so during the National Anthem.
I can’t guarantee that it would work, but I would hope they would see me as someone trying to bring people together rather them drive them further apart. I would do my best to use my time and my platform in a way that would honor the flag and the cross. I hope everyone who is using the expression “I stand for the flag and kneel at the cross” would join me in that goal.
The first time the American flag was flown was on January 1, 1776 by George Washington in Somerville, Massachusetts, just outside of a Boston besieged. The American troops were watching from a place called Prospect Hill as the British controlled the city. Washington thought they needed a symbol to inspire them in the difficult time that they were in. The flag is meant to inspire, especially in difficult times!
The colors each have meaning: Valor, strength, perseverance, and justice. We must all ponder these qualities our flag represents, and live them. We must show the strength to not give in to emotional outbursts, but strategies that will help us get better. We are strong enough to not only handle criticism, but grow from it. We can persevere and hold on to American values, especially in troubling times. From it’s earliest days in this country we placed a high importance on justice. When people kneel during the anthem, they are not trying to disrespect the flag, they are trying to force our country to live up to it. The stars and stripes also have significance. They are meant to remind us that in spite of our differences, we are all on the same team.
Think about the song during which these protests occur, written while Ft. McHenry, just outside of Baltimore was under attack:
And the rockets’ red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof thru the night that our flag was still there.
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?
“Our flag was still there”: This is the part that always gives me goosebumps. Our flag is a survivor, once again: it can take criticism.
“The land of the free and the home of the brave”: We are meant to be free. Sometimes the expression of that freedom causes discomfort in others. Despite that discomfort, freedom must always be defended. Being a patriot means not just standing up for the flag or a song, but for the values they represent.
What would Jesus say his followers should do about the protestors? I think the answer is pretty simple:
Love them by showing them respect and mercy. Love them by listening. Love them by guiding them, learning from them, and teaching them.
It bothers me when I see people call them things like “punks”, “thugs”, “narcissistic brats”, and “crybabies”. Is that really what you think Jesus would want you to do? I think Jesus would love them, and want you to as well. I think Jesus would want you to look for ways to help and heal rather than insult. If you think I’m getting the message wrong, please leave a comment and help me out.
The Flag and the Cross together:
As much as the current conflict over kneeling during the national anthem bothers me, I do appreciate the opportunity to learn about people’s character in a time like this. I am glad to see so many people using the phrase, “I stand for the flag and kneel at the cross.” I hope they take some time to think about what those two symbols truly represent, and let them guide their words and actions. In a country where so many proudly profess to be patriots and Christians, I yearn for them to behave like it.
Follow the unfinished pyramid on twitter at https://twitter.com/unfinishedpyr
<a target=”_blank” href=”https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1595584773/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=1595584773&linkCode=as2&tag=unfinishedpyr-20&linkId=f9b35ee0ddd42978331c4d987db56186″><img border=”0″ src=”//ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?_encoding=UTF8&MarketPlace=US&ASIN=1595584773&ServiceVersion=20070822&ID=AsinImage&WS=1&Format=_SL160_&tag=unfinishedpyr-20″ ></a><img src=”//ir-na.amazon-adsystem.com/e/ir?t=unfinishedpyr-20&l=am2&o=1&a=1595584773″ width=”1″ height=”1″ border=”0″ alt=”” style=”border:none !important; margin:0px !important;” />