A LONG ONE . . . PLEASE READ
Sue – Voice II: Well, here we are . . . the country is divided over football, racial injustice, and the National Anthem. Social media is exploding with accusations and people are unfriending each other at record amounts and light speed. There is no middle ground in this situation pitting freedom of speech and protest versus patriotism and the American flag. How sad! I have to admit that I got caught up in the dialogue, but I am finished. It depresses and discourages me to the point that I almost deleted my Facebook account. People who I have known in a professional and personal manner are judging my long-held beliefs about our country, its flag, and anthem as racist and attacking my opinions. It hurts! Circumspection can be a good thing, but try as I might, I can’t seem to move to the other side. A person’s life, one who was made in God’s image, is of more value than “a piece of cloth” as I heard someone describe the flag, or a song about our country. I can draw that line, but can’t cross over the thought that there is a time and place for everything, and just because you have the right to do something . . . doesn’t make doing it right.
I want to fight against injustice, I always have, but cannot support the protests as they are occurring. Do we have racial issues in this country? Yes! There are too many questionable events happening with the police, court cases, housing, etc. that need to be addressed and corrected. However, are there two sides to every situation? I believe so, and that’s where I get caught up. To make a knee-jerk reaction to a police shooting without knowing the facts leads us no where. To make a list of court cases against officers who shot a black person with “no conviction” in the final column isn’t a conclusion. What are the facts of the case, why did the jury rule as it did, especially if it contained Black jurors – why not a hung jury? This country, already divided after the last election is splitting even further apart with a lot of hurt feelings going around as untold numbers of people shake their heads and choose to go their own way, and long-time friends theirs. It’s that serious – people are choosing their side over other people! God must be very disappointed. 😦
Deidre – Voice II: “To take a knee or not to take a knee?” is indeed a really serious question. Once again, it has shoved Americans into the spotlight in a tale of, death if I do and death if I don’t in much the same way as Shakespeare’s character, Hamlet, felt when he stated “To be or not to be . . .” Hamlet’s situation left him in a state of limbo, and our country appears to be in a state of uncertain frenzy also. Many appear to have overreacted, including our professional athletes beginning with Colin Kaepernick, who started kneeling at the singing of the national anthem before NFL games last year. Now hundreds of others have joined him in this silent protest that could possibly bring about death to their careers and reputations if our country continues on this ruinous course of division. No doubt this collision course that we as Americans are on will continue unless we begin to allow ALL Americans to exercise their First Amendment rights, and be given opportunities for self-expression and dialogue through open forums and other positive means.
Initially, I saw the kneeling of athletes during the anthem as totally disrespectful, and I could not understand why they would dare to disrespect our country’s song and symbol in such a way. However, once I educated myself on their position, I learned that they were doing it to bring about quick responses and results to social injustices that continue to plaque the black and other low-income communities, involving the brutal killings of minority males at record numbers. In our book’ s Chapter VIII, entitled, “Must We Repeat History,” a resounding response of “YES!” has never rung more true and will continue to sound-off until young males of color are given a broader and more respected voice beyond prison cells. This will allow them to be heard in the necessary proportions that go beyond chains of confinement and whines of social disparities. What better way for them to be heard than from the sports arena? History has proven that court, field, and out-field can bring down barriers of race and cultural differences in our country as well as world-wide quicker than any other area of life. Sports seemingly binds most Americans together like nothing else. Why would some sports’ fans encourage, scream, and cheer when their favorite young athletes run, kick, and throw that football at record speeds, but “boo” when they demonstrate a peaceful expression of wanting to be heard. Personally, I have a big problem with that!
Furthermore, as an African-American/black woman, I have had to watch over and over again SOME white people display their Confederate flags, T-shirts, and signs that say, “It’s heritage, not hate.” I have had to watch their display of this flag and signs most of my life. So, my question becomes, whose heritage are you talking about if the Confederate flag represents the states that seceded – divided and separated themselves – from the progressing unity of our UNION since the 1860’s! If “taking a knee” is one more incident that is capable of pushing a hundred-plus year problem in the history of our country that has not been fully, openly, and honestly dealt with yet, then let it come now. If doctors have to look at the history of a person’s life, family, and genetics in order to diagnose and treat an individual’s medical condition, why do we think we can treat and heal our nation’s wounds without also looking at the roots of its ailments? As we all know, race and racism is an on-going dilemma that equally requires peaceful and on-going expressions of freedom of speech, open dialogue, and a basic common respect for individuals with differing opinions, thoughts, and feelings because of diversity. When it comes to the race card, America has an entire deck of cards that it needs to divide, organize, and deal with before more realistic healing as a nation can begin. Sue and I say, “We have to agree to disagree” at times (Chapter VII), and this is one more issue to add to that list. This does not exempt us from showing our love and respect for our differing views. We value our God-given friendship.
We need to lose the phrase, “You’re Fired!” and replace it with, “Be Enlightened and Be Inspired.” We must seek out ways to be realistically enlightened with the knowledge of another man’s plight by talking directly with him or others similar to him before just dismissing him as wrong or passing a final judgement. Next, allow the enlightenment you receive to inspire you to make a difference right where you are for the better. Once you are enlightened, share your growth and changes with others. Christian Americans need to lead the way by being Salt and Light (Matthew 5:13-16). Display unity with a willingness to listen and respond to others with the same respect you desire. The only way for America to be great again – for every American – is for Christians and other positive-minded Americans to lead the way back to “ONE NATION UNDER GOD!!!” We must at least try because after everything is said and done, we will all most definitely, “Take A Knee before a Holy God one day!” For now, we must pray!
Please join us.