I realize that I am late to this conversation, but recently I was in conversation with some folks who are so angry about the National Anthem protests that they will not watch their favorite teams but will only follow the score via the internet. So I felt the need to speak out in response.
This post is primarily aimed at those of us who call ourselves Christians, but it may have wider application.
My concern is that with all the calls for boycotts, protests and other angry responses, we can lose sight of the fact that we are dealing with real people, not just concepts.
I have not lived in Colin Kaepernick’s shoes, I have no idea what it is like to be him. I also really can’t know what motivated him to take the stand that he took. I don’t fully agree with how he went about his protest but he felt it was important enough to take a stand. This post is not intended to condone or condemn Mr. Kaepernick’s actions.
My point is that Colin Kaepernick is a human being with what I assume to be a normal distribution of fears, aspirations, likes and dislikes. As a Christian, I know him to be in the imago dei and therefore is deserving of the same respect we should show to any member of the human race. Much of the rhetoric that I have heard about Colin’s protest shows neither respect or compassion for him.
To my knowledge, Colin has committed no crime, nor has he advocated anything that would cause social anarchy. A Google search on Colin’s name turned up a link to his web site which is intended to fight oppression. Sure, the devil is in the details, but oppression is worth fighting. Whether you agree with his methods or not, it seems as though the goal is a worthy one.
My plea is this: can we stop the shouting on social media long enough to listen? How different would the world be if we asked questions instead of making assumptions.
Does the perceived disrespect of the flag, warrant the disrespect of a human being?
On the other hand, can we stop with applying the racist label to anyone who disagreed with the method of protest? Not everyone who disagreed with Colin are closet racists.
As Christians, we know that all of us are deeply flawed. We all carry the seeds of oppression inside of us. The root of pride, lust, violence and hatred is in each of us. That’s the bad news and is part of the gospel message.
Those of us who have this understanding of the human condition should be the most tolerant of it in others.
The good news is that Christ, the one whose name we bear when we call ourselves Christian, came to take the penalty for our flaws and provide the means for those flaws to get addressed.
Rather than fueling the divide between people, Christians should be at the forefront of those who are trying to bring peace and reconciliation. Listening before sharing opinions, would be a good start toward bringing this about.