I was raised Catholic, spent eight years of my life in religions education, and every Sunday could be found in the pews at church, listening to lessons from the Bible and from the Pastor. The purpose of these lessons wasn’t to scare me or tell me that there is only one true path to follow (I didn’t go to THAT sort of church). Rather, I was given stories to interpret in order to follow forward on my personal path. We stood up to sing as a joint church, but then we also did something else.
And when we kneeled it was as a moment to reflect on how we as an individual can do better. It was a moment when we were in deference to God and the church, a sacred moment that we chose to use as a mean of plotting out our course for the week, it was about ourselves, even as we were surrounded by others, that couple of minutes were for ourselves.
This past weekend, 200 NFL players chose not to stand for our national anthem, instead opting to go down on one knee in peaceful protest, not against our country, our flag, or our anthem. I would even argue that what they’re doing is saying “I don’t believe in our country,” what they’re saying is we as a country can do better. Just as we kneel in church as a means to reflect, these players during the few minutes the national anthem is being played, before they go to work to entertain millions of Americans, all with vastly different opinions, political views, experiences, it’s those two minutes when a kneeling player, showing absolute deference to the flag and our country, they’re thinking, how can this country truly be great again? Not too far away from the people they’ve angered, who want our country great again.
What we as a nation need to realize is that making the country great (I’m choosing to leave out ‘again’ as I will argue our country has been great for generations, because of it’s foundations of religious and personal liberty) is not a singular path to a singular goal. It is 300 million paths to 300 million ends. Every person has a different opinion of what ‘great’ means to them.
What Colin Kaepernick and those who followed his lead are doing when they kneel is not saying “I hate America, the flag, the troops, apple pie, the Constitution, etc,’ but rather saying that they wish the greatness they seek in our country, be it racial equality, or whatever they’re personal goal may be, is not apparent anymore. Like the religious among us did in church every Sunday, the players are taking a moment to ask “How can we as a nation do better?”