That escalated quickly. Everyone take a big deep breath. Put all your energy aside for a moment. No matter your position, sit and read. I want to offer a different point of view. I won’t try to change your mind. Most of you have decided that nobody can do that. Most of you are passionate through your eyes. So this is for everyone.
As previously stated I’m not watching football this year. I could not avoid the wreck this Sunday and carnage that followed. I understand both sides of this argument (albeit completely different points of argument and way different levels of understanding). I get that certain patriots feel like they are being disrespected. Perhaps a family member has perished in battle, you’ve wept long and honor them every time you hear that song or bear that flag. I get the young black point of view. Colin first knelt last August. He did it because he thought it would bring attention to the struggle of the black male against the way they are policed. It’s understandable how both sides are outraged. I read a lot of posts, blogs, articles and threads on this topic over the last few hours. Only a few are amicable or even sympathetic to the opposition (or what they view as the opposition). In most of the messages it’s pure denouncement of the other side. It’s “my way, our way or get out.” It’s you “fucking white people don’t understand.” It’s “thug millionaires.” It’s “do it on your own time.” It’s “Hillary lost, get over it.” It’s “you are raping the honor from this country.” It’s “libetards.” It’s “fake patriotic fucks.” It’s “sons of bitches.” These are direct quotes. These are Americans in present day America. If you said one of these things, in your brain I’m sure you have reason. Have you lost empathy? Have you lost compassion?
I scrolled through the still shots and watched a little video of these silent demonstrations. There were two images that struck me and I thought “that’s it, that’s a message that maybe ALL can understand!” The first was one teammate kneeling in between two that were standing. The second was a video of one teammate kneeling, when the song is over, a “standing” teammate helps the other up and embraces him. It struck me because these are men that disagree with each other but have agreed that the other has this right. They may even think that it is disrespectful but they accept their teammates’ point of view. They accept his difference. They recognize their difference. They empathize. They then do to work for a common goal, together.
Then I head to the political realm. It typifies not working together. It wedges hard between two sides. I think to myself, “these are brilliant minds, yet they think they are on different teams?” A thought runs into my head, starts as a trickle and then burst like a damn. We need leaders that are more like the NFL players that stood and knelt next to one another. These “thug millionaires” have figured out how to work together better and more graciously than our elected officials. These “brilliant minds” that are put in place by us act like 4th graders. They draw hard lines in the sand and say to the American people, “they are wrong, we are right. Do not give. Take!” The American brain is forced to “choose.” You are “washed” one way or another. You’ve lost empathy.
“They should do this on their own time.” Google, “NFL players donate to charity or NFL players give to society.” I’m really surprised by the millionaire rhetoric. These young men do quite a bit for their respective communities but most of them like to stay out of the news. Even the one’s that are perceived at “thugs” give. “When former Detroit Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh isn’t busy on the field, he’s equally aggressive about donating to charity. In 2012, Forbes ranked Suh highest among NFL players on the top 30 most generous celebrities for his $2.6 million donation to the University of Nebraska, which included $2 million for the athletic department and another $600,000 to a scholarship fund for the College of Engineering. Suh also runs a number of his own charities, such as the Ndamukong Suh Family Foundation. With a new six-year contract from the Miami Dolphins worth over $114 million, Suh has plenty of capital to maintain his spot as the most charitable player in the game.” Remember him? He’s the “thug” that kept stomping heads on the field. I’m sure you had a name for him. My question to you is “what do you do?” I hope it’s more than a filter on Facebook. Can you empathize with his cause?
What are they kneeling for? Well, when Colin knelt it was in protest for police brutality. I’ve heard people say that this isn’t an issue, that police officers are just doing their jobs. Killing unarmed young men is not their jobs. They are protecting their own lives? I’m here to tell you it’s mostly not the men in uniforms fault. There are “rotten apples” within but mostly it is a systemic problem. Policing is not adequate. Training is not adequate. Community based policing does not exist in cities. The judicial system is rigged against the poor. Did Colin’s protest do anything? There have been over 200 black people shot and killed by law enforcement in the year following Colin’s protest. You’ve seen video of unarmed kids just arguing with cops put down with extreme force. Training is not adequate. I’ve argued with police officers before. I’ve thought I was wrongly accused. I am alive. Can you imagine (empathy) being harassed everyday, just for walking to work? Can you put yourself in those shoes, because of where you are born, that might decide your life span? Can you speak with someone that has grown up there and try to understand? Can you empathize? Can you take action? Can you stop the frivolity of meaningless social media posts and actually face it? Can you fucking empathize?
This recent protest wasn’t about that though. These were colleagues of Colin’s taking a stand, a knee against the highest office in our country. A man that can’t seem to separate ratings from his job. A man who is calling out his own citizens. A man who called some people at a violent demonstration “good people” and these young men are “sons of bitches” that should be fired. A man who pushes an agenda against a person like Steph Curry, a family man, a Godly man. A man who thinks if you think or act different that he, you should be “out” or gone. I CANNOT EMPATHIZE.
I’m sorry that your brothers/sisters, sons/daughters, husbands/ wives died protecting this country. I truly am. I’m also sorry that a young black man feels like his life could be in jeopardy when a squad car rolls up. I truly am.
I applaud Colin. A dialogue has begun. It’s ugly at first, very. Over time we need to keep talking. I don’t know what the answer in the end is. Maybe it has to do with empathy and compassion for all people; in the neighborhood, in the county, in the state, in the country and God willing, GLOBALLY.