Colin Kaepernick and the Anthem

I have some confessions to make:

Sometimes I don’t close my eyes when I pray.

Sometimes I don’t sing along with everyone in church.

Sometimes I don’t sing when the National Anthem is played.

Sometimes when the Pledge of Allegiance is recited, I don’t say it, my lips are sealed.

So when Colin Kaepernick, much maligned quarterback of the San Fransisco 49ers gets criticized for not standing for the National Anthem, I don’t really care.  Go for it, Colin.  Stand up (or stay seated) for what you believe in.  Don’t sing, don’t salute, don’t put your hand over your heart – if you’re doing it for a specific reason – more power to you.

I think one of the beautiful things about America is that we don’t all have to think the same.  One of the things that makes our country great is a history of civil disobedience that has led to change.  I’m not putting Kaepernick in the same class as Martin Luther King Jr., but there’s a connection there.  There’s a connection with Muhammed Ali.  There’s a connection with John Carlos and Tommie Smith, who protested conditions of African-Americans during the grand stage of the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City.

So, go for it Colin.  I don’t think it means he loves America any less – in fact, I think maybe, just maybe, he loves it just as much as the person standing 2 inches taller at the Anthem and singing their heart out.  I say that, because I think I understand Colin Kaepernick.

I love this country we live in, but I don’t pledge allegiance to it.  My kids say the pledge of allegiance every day in school – I don’t tell them not to do it.

What I mean is that if Donald Trump becomes president of these fine United States of America, I won’t blindly support the policies of our nation (I don’t do that now, with a president I mightily respect).  I’ll pray for him, but I won’t pledge allegiance to him.  The same with Hillary Clinton.  I don’t pledge allegiance to the wars we’re involved in and the incredible waste of money that wars result in.  I don’t pledge allegiance to political corruption we see played out in so many ways.  I don’t pledge allegiance to the flag – because under this flag, Native Americans were tricked and connived and murdered for land they had lived on for a thousand years.  Examples could go on an on here, just as examples of wonderful things could as well.  There are a lot of skeletons in the closet of America though, and so I don’t pledge allegiance to it.

Maybe it’s a bit of civil disobedience on my part, but more than that, it’s that I don’t want to pledge my allegiance to a country in such a blind manner.  I would rather pledge my allegiance to the way of Jesus than a country – no matter how many good things that country does.

I love this country enough to want to speak out against some of these injustices and vote and work from within some of the broken systems to change it.  I love it enough to allow others to speak against it when they recognize injustices as well.  And don’t get me wrong, when I push for peace it doesn’t mean that I make a decision to not support our troops.  Why can’t we support our troops through love and prayer and yet be against a political policy that places them in situations I don’t believe we should be in?  When I say Black Lives Matter it doesn’t mean that I believe police lives don’t matter.

When you proudly stand and remove your hats and put your hands on your hearts and recite the pledge; or when you boldly sing love for the land of the free and the home of the brave; or when you sing for God to bless America – I don’t fault you.  I don’t think you’re an idiot for doing so.  I think, go for it.  You do what you do.  But I hope we allow people to disagree with us on that, just like I expect many will disagree with me on my stance here.  And I’m okay with that.  Do what you do.  Believe in what you believe in.