Ok, admittedly, I’m white, 60 years old, and grew up in what was probably a middle-upper class environment. The only families of other races in my immediate neighborhood were equally as upper-middle class as my family. I was not actually exposed to blatant racism until I was a very young adult and began working in the deep South.
I was at first completely baffled by the vastly different attitudes that I found in the South; from all the various ethnic groups. Then I met a new, young, black, male coworker who came into my area with an intense dislike, or perhaps more accurate, disTRUST, of white people. One might have said he had a chip on his shoulder or perhaps an ax to grind, but I had to work in close proximity to him, and so I was determined to get along with him. In time, I came to actually appreciate his quick wit, his sarcasm accompanied by a wink, and sometimes even his laid-back attitude towards hard work! I believe he trusted and liked me, too. We had a very real “co-worker friendship.” We discussed our astoundingly different backgrounds which molded our differing outlooks on life in general, and, yes, we each gained a deep respect for a perspective, and a race, other than our own. That was my initiation into racial differences.
Growing up, I understood that the word “racism” was equal to “hatred.” Today, however, it seems to be the equivalent of any acknowledgement of difference, whether by attitude, word, or deed, and even when done in ignorance, in innocence, humor, or by any other measure. By that standard, I suppose we are all qualified to be called racist, however, I think we can see differences without feeling any sense of hate and that we can and should in many ways appreciate our differences.
Throughout history, the forces of satan have used good things for evil purposes. The Bible teaches us that before Christ returns, good will be called evil and evil will be called good. We see this happening now. More so every day. Satan often manages to morph good intentions into bad public relations. I think that this is what has happened with the current events of kneeling during the playing of our National Anthem.
The player who started this phenomenon was, I believe, doing something he may have thought was a positive way to highlight an area that definitely needs improvement. Unfortunately, he was not a the best spokesperson. He is certainly not the leader that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was, not by any measure. His motives, from this distance, seem to be about gaining greater fame and more fortune for himself than for bringing about true social improvement. What I see, through my old, “white” eyes, is a man who has been gifted, yes, blessed, with opportunities and privileges beyond what most of us could ever imagine; yet here he is, pitching a pouty session like a toddler who has been given five giant cookies but still wants more. After learning of his background, I concluded that he was a man filled with fake outrage only for personal gain. He purposely chose to touch a “third rail” subject – something he KNEW would get a major reaction, apparently not caring what the actual consequences for everyone would be.
Instantly, old satan gave a hearty laugh! Immediately and easily, the evil one warped the physical act of kneeling from being a symbol of reverence and humbleness into a new symbol of hate and outrage. Then he turned even the best intentions of this football player into a wave of hatred toward others and brought even more misunderstanding and divisiveness to our land. This caused taking a knee for our National Anthem to become another way to be seen by millions of Americans as a new way to show hatred toward our President, our law enforcement, our military, our heritage, and our nation. I truly do not think one lone football player ever thought his actions could be used to wreak such havoc upon our country, and I hope that he would surely choose another path if given a do-over now.
I will not tell my friends and my brothers and sisters in Christ who are of a different race than I am that racial inequality is a non-issue. It obviously IS an enormous problem! We ALL need to be more loving, more kind, more considerate, more forgiving, and more understanding of each other. Respect is a 2-way street. Two wrongs have never merged into positive change. Blacks being taught from early age to distrust or even hate whites is just as horrid as whites teaching their children that their skin tone somehow makes them superior to others.
My first “American” ancestor arrived on these shores as an indentured servant held by Hessian soldiers, forced into a war he had no reason to take part in. In desperation, he made a daring and successful escape. Yes, he was a runaway slave! I was taught that these indentured men were the very slaves Mr. Key was referring to when he penned the third verse of the Star-Spangled Banner; as both a rant against the British regime and a beacon of hope for his beloved new nation. But, truthfully, does my slave ancestor’s life story have any deep personal influence over MY life? My choices? My opportunities to succeed or fail today? No.
Americans realize that we can ALWAYS, as a nation, strive for improvement. There will ALWAYS be injustices that should not be, and pure evil will walk among us. This has been true since the beginning. Hate will always try to fester and grow. Do we allow hate to devour us, or shall we instead choose to start with LOVE and use love to fight hate.
Without a firm foundation of mutual respect, how will we ever be able to link arms and move forward, together, as AMERICANS? When I look back on our history, I see the good, the bad, and the ugly – every bit of it just as important than the last and of the next. I do not come away hating my country because of it, instead I am filled with a sense of pride in flawed people who overcame a myriad of differences to improve their country, for all of us.
We will all, always, make mistakes. We will not get as far as we would like as fast as we should. Can we at least begin to take steps to stop the complete disregard of one for another? Can we set aside our supposition that there are only two sides to our issues, and that only one side, (that being the side we each perceive ourselves to be on), is righteous?
To me, our American Flag, our National Anthem, and our Constitution all represent the blood, sweat, tears, service, lost lives, devotion, and passion of ALL of OUR ancestors. It is OUR heritage, brought to life by people yearning for freedom, and built upon the precepts of the One True God who loves us ALL without hesitation or reservation.
What I believe we need to understand is that America truly IS a rich and God-blessed country. Our diversity makes us stronger, better, more flexible, and hopefully more compassionate. I fiercely believe that, together, we can accomplish the things we need to do to bring about positive changes that need to be made.
I am a simple woman. To me, it all things begin with simple changes. The simple change from a stand to a seated position to a kneeling position has caused an uproar. I think this very hard subject that has caused so much hurt to us all can begin to heal with a new simple change.
Let’s start a new uproar of change. I suggest starting this new phenomenon, simply, with a SMILE! I smile. I smile all the time, at all people, all the time, everywhere. And they almost always smile back! By smiling, followed by listening, by caring, being respectful and kind one to another, we CAN begin to help God heal our land.
I’m smiling at you right this very moment, in appreciation that you’ve read this whole post! I hope you’re smiling back at me, too!