Tag: national anthem

From whom does my help come?

When I was a little girl, maybe six or seven years old, my family and I visited some relatives in Philadelphia, PA.  I was upstairs with my brothers and cousins and developed a nose bleed.  I was upset at the sight of blood and went downstairs, running to a relative for help.  Upon seeing me, this relative reared back her hand and slapped me hard across the face.

Others at the table where she sat were taken aback by her reaction, as was I.  I began crying, and she immediately explained that she thought I had gotten into my aunt’s makeup and had smeared red lipstick all over my face.  She didn’t realize I was bleeding, and felt badly about hitting me.

I share this story with you, because I feel we, like this relative of mine, have lost sight of what a cry for help looks like.  We aren’t reacting with compassion and a desire to understand, but rather with the same stinging slap I received as a child.

The election of Donald Trump is a cry for help from unemployed, or under employed white rural voters.

Players and band members sitting during the national anthem is a cry for help from people of color who are scared of their loved ones or themselves, dying during a routine traffic stop.

The speech from the cast members of Hamilton was a cry for help, asking our elected officials to acknowledge the racism, religious intolerance and misogyny experienced by our fellow Americans.

Women organizing to march in Washington is a cry for help against unequal pay, unwanted sexual advances and discrimination in the workplace.

Even the alt right, with its desire to develop a white nation state, is a cry for help as white people acknowledge their dwindling role as the majority in our country.

Clearly, there are several citizens who are not feeling a need to cry for help.  What race, sex and income group do you feel comprises the safest Americans?  If you can guess the answer as easily as I can, maybe we can all at least agree that while there is a percentage of our countrymen doing quite well, there are an awful lot of people who are experiencing a great deal of pain.

Maybe some of those people who are struggling will be sitting around your dining room table this Thanksgiving.  Maybe some of them didn’t vote for your candidate.  Maybe some of them don’t share your views.

What if, instead of arguing or choosing to ignore each other, we each asked, “how do you feel let down or left out?”  “What are your biggest worries?”  “What are your biggest fears?” and “What change do you hope to see?”

And perhaps most important of all, “what can I do to help?”

Many of our friends, neighbors and family members are issuing cries for help.  What if we lend our ears and listen to them instead of being quick to react and perhaps cause unnecessary pain?

Standing for a Mediocre America?

I love my kids and hold them to high standards.   I never stop reminding them of their manners, and always expect high grades and responsible behavior.  I hold a beautiful vision for their lives and do everything in my power to make sure they stay on the right track and have a good future.

Your kids? Not so much.

It’s not as though I don’t care about them.  I hope they do well in school and stay out of trouble.  I hope things turn out okay for you and your family.  However, if your child comes to my house and doesn’t clear their plate from the table, I won’t make them stop what they are doing and return to the kitchen.  I expect excellence from my kids; I’m okay with your kids being mediocre.

I’ve been thinking about these different standards I have for my kids versus yours and how it’s rooted in my love for them and my high expectations for them.  I call them out when they make mistakes and I am kind of famous in this house for, “not letting things go.”

I’ve been thinking about this ever since watching Colin Kaepernick, other players, band members and cheerleaders kneel or raise a fist during the national anthem.

I have been wondering if their actions during the national anthem don’t make them the most patriotic people in the stadium.  What if they love America more than the rest of us combined?  What if they are treating America the way I treat my children and the rest of us are treating America the way I treat your kids?

What if all of us standing are content with mediocre America?  What if those people kneeling are not letting our country off the hook so easily when it isn’t living up to its ideals?

Half the kids in our country can’t read their classroom materials.  Are all of us who stand with our hands over our hearts saying, “hey, that’s pretty good.  Half is well, half.  Good job America!” the way I might tell your son, “Hey, a C is passing!”

Are all of us standing for the national anthem okay with the shooting of unarmed children and adults?  Do we think, ‘well, the occasional killing isn’t so bad as long as it doesn’t get out of hand?’  Do we think average is good and those who hold their fists in the air aren’t willing to settle for average?

The gap between the ultra-wealthy and middle and lower income families has never been greater—are all those standing before the game who aren’t in the 1% thinking things are just going to work out eventually and believing the Citizens United decision, allowing the ultra-wealthy to sway political campaigns isn’t affecting them too much?

Women are paid seventy-eight cents for every dollar a man makes.  When women stand during the national anthem are we saying, “keep trying America—you can do it–one of these days or centuries, men and women really will be equal?

Some people say those kneeling are being disrespectful to the military.  Twenty vets who fought for our country kill themselves every day.  When we stand are we saying, “I’m sure someone is working on that, plus it’s only twenty?”

Who really loves America the most—those of us standing and accepting mediocrity or those kneeling, holding America to a higher standard?

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