Posts Tagged ‘kneeling’

I think that it might seem strange for me to publish the articles series that I started yesterday about Confederate Monuments without commenting on the protests. Those were scheduled a few weeks ago to publish at this time, and I was concerned that something new would be at the forefront by the time they posted(welcome to our media culture)… and I was right.  So, I am trying to apply some thoughts and hopefully increase some awareness about the current NFL – centered protest movement.

Some of those principles will apply here for sure, too, so this is an overall

I take no personal issue when people protest something; that is for sure… No matter what they protest and how they do it. What and how someone protests is about them, not me.

However, I sure appreciate some things about some protests more than others.

  1. I sure appreciate when the protest is non-violent and is unlikely to cause damage to people’s lives.
  2. I appreciate when those protesting are extremely clear about what they are protesting.
  3. I also understand that a protest has to make people uncomfortable and must draw attention to itself or it might as well not happen. This is something that people who are uncomfortable with a protest need to keep in mind.   Protests are meant to cost you something so that you sit up and pay attention!

For example, we are about to celebrate the 500th anniversary of one of the most important protests of all times – the Protestor Reformation (aka Protestant Reformation) … in itself, it was non-violent (though many of the responses to it weren’t).

It was super clear – at least at the beginning. Luther posted the exact issues that he was wanting to reform.

So, I also am not very troubled by the current NFL protests, but based on what I listed as what I appreciate, I have some ideas that I think would help us all in regards to it.

  1. It is nonviolent and is unlikely to cause actual damage to anyone. I appreciate that. It is likely to cost owners and the NFL billions in lost revenue, but those are private individuals and they will have to decide how to handle it.

Playing football is a job and a privilege – not a right. It is certainly legal for the players to protest and it would be legal for the league to enforce its own rules if it wants to, or for owners to implement their own rights as owners.

If an owner decides that the protests are hurting his/her business too much and decides to forbid the protests, or create consequences for them, that is appropriate too. If one of Alethia’s counselors decided to protest in a way that cost us clients, I would be sound in my decision to remove them from my team. I am not impacting their freedom of speech – they can still protest, if legal. They just cannot protest as a member of my team of counselors.

That brings up an issue that is worth mentioning:

Freedom of anything doesn’t mean the freedom from any consequences for practicing that freedom! If you are going to practice your freedom of speech, others will practice their freedom of speech in disagreement. How absurd to practice freedom of speech and then ask (or force) everyone to stay silent in response to your protest! A protest is meant to be an invitation to join the conversation or the conflict in a new way.

So, if you are going to protest, then of course you will get pushback and conflict… again, that is the nature of a protest. Remember how you want to make people uncomfortable or cost them something? So, to complain about what people SAY about you in your protest is pretty silly.

However, protests can be about moral issues that transcend even issues of legality. If you are willing to break the law in order to protest, then consequences can go beyond just words. Depending on how serious you are about your protest, you may need to be prepared to die for it.

  1. My main concern with the current protest is that I think the protesters are not being very clear about what exactly they are protesting and that is leading to a lot of confusion and unnecessary anger.

I know this essentially started with an individual, but I don’t know that he is or was in any way, a spokesperson

for a protest movement.  Spokespersons are

powerful agents of clarity.

A quick glance online says that the current protest is against #1 police brutality, #2 Donald Trump, #3 social and racial injustice, #4 the treatment of black Americans, #5 the flag and the nation it represents, #6 the anthem itself and the man who wrote it… and that it isn’t a protest at all, but a show of unity. And that is from only 5 websites!

I can see that some of those are similar, but I think a more effective protest would be clearer as to what they want to accomplish. I think that lack of clarity of message is what has created distraction from the value of the protest.  It has led some people to think that the protest is about the military, or NFL leadership or just a hatred for America.

I cannot support anything that dishonors the work of soldiers or professional responders as a group, so I need to know what I am responding to and at the beginning of the article, I didn’t know. Here is a prediction: some people will respond to this article as to what “the real reason” people knelt this last Sunday at the games… but they won’t agree as to what that was.

So, what if I sympathize with #3 & 4 above, but not #5 & 6? Should I support the protest or resist it?

If more people knew that kneeling was meant to model a soldier kneeling next to a wounded comrade (see article below), then kneeling as a response to the anthem might not seem as offensive to American Patriots.

For example, it was intriguing to learn that the reason Kaepernick (the recent-first to sit in protest during the anthem) switched from sitting on the bench to kneeling was because of a conversation with a soldier/NFL player (Nate Boyer).   Did you know about that?  I sure didn’t until starting to research for this article.  They decided that sitting was rude to soldiers but kneeling was a statement of support for soldiers but not support for the country that oppresses people (this is paraphrase, but very true to the original statements I found, see article below)…

It seems that they imagined the kneeling being similar to a soldier kneeling by a fallen or injured comrade.

This is what I mean about having a clear message, and/or a clear spokesperson.  I think if people understood the motive and message of the kneeling (if that is accurate), there would be MUCH less (unnecessary) offense taken.

Most of us are not willing to support anything that comes across as insulting to our military.  My opinion is that we should find ways to avoid that… and anything that seems to insult the Anthem is often connected to them.   Anytime insult to the military could be inferred, a protest must tread lightly and clearly (have I said that yet?)

I would love if there were a way for this protest movement to distance itself from even seeming insulting to our military men and women.  I think it could do that with even just a clear explanation for WHY they are kneeling (rather than other things).  It might be better done at another time during the platform that athletes have in the US in order to avoid that connection if it isn’t intended (and apparently it isn’t.)

Anyway, I think that point is made.

I agree that there are still systemic and unashamed racial issues that can be improved upon – even though things are and have been improving.  So, we need to experience some discomfort in order to be reminded of the need to change (ask any of us therapists).  Ask any African American man and he will have accounts of facing it… and it must stop!  

Please, God.

So, I appreciate the attention to the general issue, while I offer the feedback above to make it more valuable for the target audience.

As Christians, we come from a protest movement as Jesus Christ came to fulfill a covenant and usher in a new one. 

This is the good news.  Jesus came to save us from so much, and thinking we are somehow more special than anyone else is one of those things.  Our need for a savior unites us in ways that nothing else divisive can compare.  Christians, let us not be so distracted by whether we agree with the way someone protests during a sporting event or a national anthem.  Look past our own discomfort to their hurt… AND defend the appreciation of those who put their lives on the line for us, too.  Peacemakers can do that.

Finally, I will comment that one of the distinctives of the Christian ethic is supposed to be an orientation toward action, not just protestation.  I have wondered allowed how much difference could be made if these thousands of marchers were to focus their energies toward something intentional – more missional – than merely marching.

Marching brings attention to an issues, and as said above, I appreciate the need for that… but what if 50,000 marchers descended on the local Salvation Army and offered to help for the next hour?  Spread out among the soup kitchens?  Worked for two hours and donated all that income to a cause, etc?  Would it improve things more substantially than marching?  I don’t pretend to understand the dynamics of all of that, but I would guess that goes back to leadership again.

This was a helpful article for some of this (obviously, I looked at a handful of others, but I am uncomfortable linking to them for various reasons): http://elitedaily.com/news/politics/actually-nfl-players-protesting-national-anthem/2080704/)



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