Now that the Super Bowl and football season is over, I have some observations about peaceful protest.
The rending of garments and gnashing of teeth over people taking a knee during the national anthem has grown completely out of hand.
Two things. No, wait, Three things:
One: If a person wishes to protest against injustice, such as police killing black people at an alarming rate, then in order for the peaceful protest to affect any change, the protest must be noticed.
It makes little sense to go to a deserted forest in the middle of the night and scream your views.
However, if you are a public figure, and upset the status quo for a large audience, then your protest gets noticed. Over-analysed, misunderstood, appropriated, and vilified, but the protest gets discussed. That is an effective protest.
By the way, football players are not protesting the flag and the anthem.
How does that make sense? Who on earth would hate a song and swath of material so much they would be willing to incur the wrath of a president? They protest because black lives are in peril.
Wouldn’t it be super awesome we could respect human lives as much as a song and flag?
Two: How strong do we think our flag is?
Doesn’t the flag represent the land of the free and the home of the brave?
Part of that freedom includes speaking up when we see injustice. The flag wants us to protest. Our flag represents freedom of speech. I believe our flag is strong. Stronger than steel or brick.
We have a titanium flag.
Three: Isn’t it time to drop the whole “we’re the greatest country on earth” thing? What does that even mean?
First of all, how can the claim be measured? Also, if there was some way to effectively measure the greatest country on earth that was accepted by the entire planet, I am reasonably sure we wouldn’t be first.
And if we were, what fucking difference does it make? How did that even get to be a goddamn competition in the first place?
Wouldn’t it be better to be known as the most giving country on earth?
The most helpful? The most inclusive? Wouldn’t those things actually be used in a measurement to determine the greatest country on earth? Because we’re failing there.
But no, there are too many people foaming at the mouth because we aren’t willing to walk in lockstep and shout meaningless bullshit about how we are the greatest. Who fucking cares? Or if we could actually use the word “great” and have it mean “great” because they way great gets used in the US today is troubling. Make America great again? I hardly think so.
How many families have you known that constantly put forth the “we are perfect, there is nothing wrong here, you should envy us” vibe when you fucking know their level of dysfunction is breathtaking? You know who is never going to grow or thrive or ever be goddamn happy? The families who care more about appearance than they do about each other or helping each other change and heal and grow. We do this same thing as a country.
How about we just put down our pitchforks and platitudes and stop worrying about everyone knowing that we’re not the greatest. Spoiler: they already know.
We could just stop, look at each other, and admit we have scary and deep fucking issues.
Until we admit our issues, confront our issues, and own our fucking issues, then we’ll keep squawking like spoiled children over sports figures opinions.
I am frustrated by how ridiculous humans are. I am appalled by my government. I am sickened by the racism and bigotry in the US. And I can say these things because I live in the US and we are free to use our voices. The US is my home and I am happy to live here. There is good about the US, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t on fire right now. I love my home and am sad for the direction we’ve taken.
I am hopeful that we can get on track again.
I have to be.
Silence won’t move us in the right direction.
We don’t grow by asking quietly to stop marginalizing groups of people. Waiting patiently for health care, clean air, and sustainable wages doesn’t work.
Photo courtesy of Barbara Rosner.