I didn’t start these ramblings with intentions of writing posts political in nature. That being said, my topics seem to be evolving here lately. If you aren’t in the mood for my perspective on Nike, Kaepernick and individual rights, please don’t continue reading. You’ve been forewarned.
Beliefs are based on our personal experiences and knowledge. I’ve thought long and hard regarding this topic for two days now. I just watched Nikes newly released commercial via my Twitter feed. It opens with a legless child wrestling and Kaepernick narrating. I will admit that the overall narrative and visuals are quite good, inspiring even. “Don’t ask if your dreams are crazy, ask if they are crazy enough.” I can’t argue with that message.
I am torn at my core over ‘ole kneeling Kaepernick, however. His kneeling gesture disgusts me. Hear me loud and clear. A N Y O N E kneeling or being disrespectful during my country’s national anthem or pledge or desecrating the flag angers me to no end. I’d go as far to say that behavior breaks my heart. It breaks my heart for all of those that have gone before us and have fought and died for our country and our individual liberties. It breaks my heart for all of those that are currently fighting and dying for our country and our individual liberties.
Therein lies my conundrum. Individual liberties protected by The Bill of Rights.
I choose to believe, soldiers past and present served or are serving for a plethora of unique reasons. Some had no choice. Maybe others wanted to make the world safer for generations to come. It’s feasible to believe some are serving in hopes of leaving our country and the world a better place. Perhaps some serve because they believe in giving back to a country that has given them so much. For all one knows, there are those seeking adventure and an opportunity to travel. Conceivably some join as a means to attend college. I almost did. Who is to say others aren’t on a quest, seeking a sense of purpose. I choose to believe many would say they served or are serving in order to protect the individual liberties of the citizens of the United States.
I often wonder how many folks truly understand what their individual liberties embody. I, in no way claim to be an expert regarding The Constitution nor The Bill of Rights. Have you ever read The Constitution? I have, many parts of it several times, and my lord, talk about confusing!
I taught the concept of the The Bill of Rights to 8th graders for many, many years. I also did my best to instill a love and respect of country in those students that walked through my classroom door. I think I did a pretty good job. In regards to the Bill of Rights, never forcing my opinion, only presenting the text and the concerns of the Anti-federalists. For intents and purposes in the life of an 8th grader, we focused much attention on the 1st Amendment. Other amendments proved not as relevant to them. That being said, we covered all Ten Amendments. I will say, they all loved the concept of the 4th.
Freedom of press, religion, speech, petition and assembly. These are topics that get 8th graders fired up. Many great and at times heated classroom debates derived from the mention of those five principles promised in the 1st Amendment. Especially, freedom of religion and speech!
Freedom of Speech is at the core of my conundrum.
My mindset has always been, you do you and I’ll do me. I cherish my freedom of speech and religion. I have exercised my right to peaceably assemble. In cherishing those liberties, I in turn have to respect those rights when practiced by others, in order to maintain my rights. Yep, even when it makes me uncomfortable or disgusts me. Tolerance and respect; like and acceptance are very different concepts.
About half way through my teaching career, I encountered several students who refused to stand during the Pledge of Allegiance. Their refusal made me so angry. I’m bettin’ I’d be all over social media today for the way I handled it. Rest assured, I would do the same in 2018.
I pulled each aside and asked them why they refused to stand. One touted religion. Others blatantly told me that they loved Mexico, not the United States. After our conversation, the young man who chose not to stand based on his religious convictions decided to stand in order to show respect for his classmates. He understood that others died for his right to refrain from saying the pledge. Maybe even one of his classmates family members. At the age of 14, he was able to understand respect for country and for others. From that day forward, he stood. He never said the pledge, and I never mentioned it again. I respected his religious convictions. But he chose to be respectful while we pledged to our country. The others were harder nuts to crack. They had been encouraged by another teacher to refrain from standing during the pledge. Eventually they stood. I think it was more to please me than anything else. Yes, I did have a conversation with that particular teacher but I’m sure you didn’t expect anything less of me. Throughout the school year, she and I began to understand each other a little more. I’d venture to say we were even casual acquaintances. She would eventually recant her stance.
Do I agree with Kaepernick? With a full throated patriotic yell I say, hell no I do not! Do I tolerate his right to kneel? It is with a not so full throated patriotic yell, I say yes. I am human after all. Again, tolerance and respect; like and acceptance are very different concepts.
In no other country would ‘ole Kaepernick have the freedom to make the statement that he’s making. That’s why it’s so hard for me to understand why target the anthem? Why not use his celebrity status and millions to go after what drives that urge to drop to one knee when the anthem is played? Truth be told, I don’t have to understand his intentions nor give a damn. Just like he doesn’t have to give a damn why I question his.
As far as Nike goes, they are opportunists. Consumers will decide if they went too far. I for one will not support them with my money. That is the beauty of the free market. You and I are free to choose.
At the end of the day, I will belt the anthem, stand for the pledge, fly my flag proudly and respect everyone’s individual liberties, and thank GOD that I live in the United States of America where I am free to do all of those things.