People are seeing football players kneeling during the National Anthem and are getting upset, turning off their televisions, demanding refunds on their NFL Sunday Ticket packages, and burning their favorites player jerseys. Unfortunately, because people wrongly assume this act of kneeling is about respect or the lack thereof for, the American flag, our great country, or our amazing dedicated military veterans and active duty servants (who are my real heroes), or our perceived unity as a nation. What gets lost in all these quiet demonstrations are the deeper issues at hand.
I have a higher tolerance for disrespect. I see the burning of the flag as disrespect. These protest, started rightly or wrongly, with the right champion or not, as a way to bring attention to a rip in the social justice wormhole. Athletes have power, they have an influence; they have a powerful voice. Athletes wanted to draw the nation’s attention to the injustice, lack of fairness, and inequality facing so many in our great country. All the things America is known for, being the land of opportunity, a land of prosperity, a nation where you can come with nothing and become a success, by worldly standards. That is not true for so many trapped in the dark corners of our urban centers. That elusive American dream has passed them by, and many are trapped in an American nightmare.
The world sees America as a beacon of freedom and the land of opportunity, but that is not the reality for many of the people I served when I was in urban America. Far too many, living in the shadows of some of the greatest architectural designs on earth are struggling to survive, and living lives of hopelessness. Can you imagine that, being hopeless in America? Their children live in fear for their survival on a daily basis.
In Chicago, we achieved a new milestone. But it is not a milestone we are having a parade to celebrate. As a matter of fact, we are trying to bury that story in the newspaper and the media. Chicago just hit the 500 mark for homicides for the year, it’s September. Five hundred families have been ripped apart by gun violence. Has the nation stood up in outrage? Not that I have heard. Have we called for an investigation into the causes? Not that I can find. Have we started a GoFundMe page to help the victims? I can’t find that on Facebook.
What we do have is football players taking a knee to remind us that while America is the greatest country on earth, but we are not without our flaws. We don’t need to burn it down, but we do need to come together to reform it. What makes America great is that we have the capacity to tackle any problem and solve it if we put our collective minds to it. It reminds me of what God said in Genesis 11. When the people came together to build a tower to reach the heavens, God stepped in to stop them, 6 And the Lord said, “Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language, and this is only the beginning of what they will do. And nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them. 7 Come, let us go down and there confuse their language, so that they may not understand one another’s speech.” God is right as always, we can solve the problems plaguing our country. Maybe the awareness of the problem is just the beginning. Once we put our collective minds to it there is nothing we can’t accomplish. And this would be a God-pleasing venture.
A chart showing the violence in Chicago. This is a story that is getting lost in the debate.
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