Under normal circumstances, I’m not one to revisit a futile issue as, in the words of my late mother, “If somebody don’t want to hear you, it doesn’t make no difference how loud or how many times you say it.”
I do, however, feel the need to clarify the position established in a previous column about the NFL player, Colin Kaepernick’s protest during presentation of the national anthem. Some readers mistakenly assumed I am not patriotic or that I’m unsympathetic to the sacrifices of veterans, military service personnel, and the country’s first responders simply because I stated Kaepernick, or any citizen of the United States, has the right to stage a protest.
My position remains the same, as detailed by the First Amendment of the U. S. Constitution; the document that establishes the “indelible” rights of every citizen. The point simply being made that we are given the freedom of protesting against anything perceived as unjust or discriminatory. As documented by the disproportionately large number of incidents wherein Black youth are dying at the hands of police, I was simply establishing the point that Kaepernick has the right to protest.
Consequently, I don’t exactly agree with Kaepernick’s method of protest as the national anthem pays homage to countless individuals who died defending the honor of our country, the flag, and Constitution. It is my general effort to shy away from mention of personal associations but in this case I find it necessary to point out a sibling and number of close relatives who worked in law enforcement, a son who was awarded a purple heart during combat for service in the United States Marine Corp, and a nephew who served in the U. S. Army and worked in Intelligence for the United States government.
For any individual to question the integrity of another’s commitment to this country based upon a difference of opinion is, well, truly unpatriotic. The thing that makes soldiers and defenders of the country heroes stems from their willingness to sacrifice safety and/or life in defense of the rights of individuals who may not agree with their moral standards. When a soldier goes to war and fights for the rights of the very people who protest the mere act of war or a police officer rescues the same person with whom he was involved in a car chase after their vehicle slams into a light pole they don’t have the luxury of weighing their options due to an obligation to the duty they are sworn to uphold.
It is truly unfortunate that people often spend more time debating the manner in which an individual protests than is consumed seeking an amicable resolve to the catalyst that manifested it. As is the typical case when not interested in a solution, those who feel they’re being “challenged” on any particular issue usually resort to unwarranted attempts at defiling the moral character of the “complainant” or pointing out issues that interpret as irrelevant to say the least. Such actions serve primarily as diversions which take our focus off the real issue and leave us bickering over unsubstantiated claims and accusations that serve no fruitful end. And when it’s all over we still covet the same unresolved poisons that are yet to be addressed. Only, it is now more difficult to reason because pride has reared its temperamental head, partnered with bitterness and resentment which results with any avenue for effective communication being forever lost.
Some seek change for the better while others remain adamant about holding onto and perpetrating past ills but the Lord directs us in Hebrews 12:14-15 to “Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.” A large number of individuals in this country take issue with others who don’t believe, think or feel as they do but the same patriotic red blood courses through all our veins and assigns equal rights to everyone. Though not everybody agrees with my opinion, I am obligated to respect that right. Neither do I agree with every position held by others but that speaks to the basic moral fiber of our country.
John F. Kennedy spoke: “So, let us not be blind to our differences – but let us also direct attention to our common interests and to the means by which those differences can be resolved.” It would be foolish of anyone to suggest we should all think alike or feel the same about every aspect of life but the common thread of respect tends to bridge the greatest divide. I could be wrong but it’s just something to consider.