Because of freedoms enjoyed by American citizens, we can, if we so choose, burn the flag, criticize the president, or kneel at a football game during the playing of our national anthem. While such an act can capture national attention, it does little about the things Mr. Kaepernick is currently complaining about.
Once, I was told the story about a large family, the mother of whom had hideous scarring to the point she looked like a creature from a horror movie; and yet, the children all seemed to shower her continually with affection and hugs and kisses. When someone asked why there was so much doting on such an unattractive person, it was revealed that years before there had been a terrible fire at the home of this family and these children had been rescued—their lives saved by their mother braving the flames, resulting in her sustaining horrible, disfiguring scarring.
The same story might be told about the United States of America. No doubt our country has scars, and several things which can be criticized. Yet, it remains a beacon to which almost every citizen of every other country is drawn.
When America was birthed as a nation by the development and adoption of our Constitution, some of those participating in its writing deplored slavery. Even so, they did not prevail at the time and a provision was written into our founding document classifying some humans as less than human because of their skin color. Nonetheless, because of the general provisions and freedoms assured by our Constitution and subsequent Bill of Rights, we have emerged as a thoughtful, caring nation in many regards. Citizens of all stripes enjoy more privileges, rights and protections than any other nation on earth. Hopefully, we will continue to evolve in this regard.
While I will defend Kaepernick’s right to express his dissatisfaction about things in this country, I also have the right to deem him wrong in his behavior. The drawback of the kneeling exercise teaches minority little league players they are being short-changed by their country. Further, it clearly fails to inspire children to do things in a positive manner that would improve the way of life for us all. It is my belief that more can be accomplished standing up than kneeling down. Even kneeling in prayer would not be as productive without an active follow through of faith.
Marching to the polls, attending your city council or school board meeting, door-to-door knocking for a candidate of your choice, or volunteering for a “get out the vote” campaign would do infinitely more to change things for the better than simply a relatively effortless protest.
Among our many other privileges as Americans we have the ultimate ability through voting to alter the course of our nation and our society. Unfortunately, only a small percentage of American citizens take advantage of this wonderful privilege. How much better would it be if we focused on inspiring children to participate in large numbers of informed voting. It is my fervent belief our nation would be far better off if those who spend hours organizing marches to protest the shortcomings of our country would spend more time organizing mass marches to the polling places on election day.
Our nation may not be perfect, but without a doubt it is great. It is up to us to try to keep it that way. How much better would it be if those who aspire to leadership of our fellow Americans of all stripes could inspire others to change our nation for the better through responsible, thoughtful participation.