I admit that I’m not proud of my first reaction. I saw “Kaepernick sits during National Anthem” and did what any person with a computer does – fired off a tweet. It read “What a turd”. I know. Eloquent, thought out, well-written.
But then came his explanation:
“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. To me, this is bigger than football, and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”
Now, I’m pretty sure I am the turd. I owe Mr. Kaepernick an apology. If I thought for a second he’d read that tweet I’d apologize to his face. Instead, I did the next best thing: I deleted it. Now I’m writing a long thing to try and figure out WHY…and maybe I can you help you out in the process, dear reader.
Reactions to Reactions
Let’s start with some common reactions I saw on twitter, facebook, etc.
How dare he disrespect our great country! If he doesn’t like it he should go someplace else!
Nope. BECAUSE this is a great country, he has the right to say what he said and do what he did. He doesn’t have to leave the country because you disagree with what he says/does or how he says or does it. You also have the right to disagree with him because ‘Murica.
How dare he disrespect the men and women that died to give him his freedom!
Nope. Nowhere in his statement did he say anything about the military, veterans, servicemen and women, etc. I’m guessing that was your interpretation of his actions, which means you assumed the worst before hearing his side of the story. Why is anger your default response?
He’s not even that good of a quarterback. Maybe he should spend more time in his playbook and stick to football.
I’m…I’m not sure what this has to do with anything. Do only good football players get to voice their opinion? I’m not a football player…does that count? Aaron Rodgers had an interesting take on football players and social issues
I think some guys in the NFL are probably worried about repercussions on speaking their mind from the league.
He’s talking specifically about NFL repercussions, but I think it works here too. What happens if no one ever talks about issues, or things that are bothering them, or things that matter to them? NOTHING CHANGES. Do I agree with his stance? It doesn’t even matter. What matters is that he has the ability, platform, and right to do something, even if he KNOWS backlash will follow.
Oh, poor million-dollar quarterback feels oppressed, boo hoo.
Nope. He didn’t say he was oppressed. He said “oppresses black people and people of color” – go back and read it, I’ll wait. With all the headlines we see about shootings, rounding up immigrants, racially profiling someone because they’re Muslim…it doesn’t seem like he’s off-base.
OK, wrap it up. What’s the Point?
I think people as a whole would do better to listen more and talk less. Why did I call Kaepernick a turd? I didn’t think. I saw. I reacted. I tweeted. It’s easy to do! What’s not easy, is hearing things from someone else’s point of view. I don’t know anything about being an oppressed person of color. Or being poor. Or being rich. Or being famous. Or being a pastor. Or being a woman. You get the idea. All I know is my point of view. So if someone has a different point of view, my response SHOULD be “Why is that your point of view?” and then…listen to the answer. I’ll learn something. I don’t have to agree with it, but at the very least I’ll learn something about the person I’m talking to. I’ll realize “hey…this is a person”, not a “they” or a liberal or a conservative or whatever the “other side” is.
It almost seems the way most people handle someone else’s point of view is trying their hardest to out-shout them about how they are right and you are wrong because of x. It’s not a personal attack on your beliefs or thoughts, it’s just different. It’s how deep, stimulating conversation happens. But we dont’ seem to get to that point.
Why do we do it? There are so many sayings, proverbs, and verses that warn us against not listening:
If one gives an answer before he hears, it is his folly and shame. — Proverbs 18:13
Listen to advice and accept instruction, that you may gain wisdom in the future. — Proverbs 19:20
Not a Bible person? OK.
“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” –Stephen R. Covey
Whew. OK one more.
“We have two ears and one mouth, so we should listen more than we say.” ― Zeno of Citium (Greek Philosopher)
For a moment, I forgot what it meant to be an American. A good person. A decent human being.