Disclaimer: I have to admit that I find this whole situation distracting and misleading. Also, it is hard for me to understand American patriotism/nationalism since I am an international student. However, I will make my best to think critically and express a valid opinion.
During the NFL preseason in 2016, Colin Kaepernick, the 49ers quarterback at the time, decided to sit during the national anthem. His reason: to protest police brutality and the assassination of fellow U.S. citizens that were targeted because of the color of their skin. According to Kaepernick’s teammate, Eric Reid, the first time he did this no one noticed. It wasn’t until the third preseason game that the media payed attention to his protest. Once the people noticed, social networks and talk shows started bursting with comments supporting the protest or criticizing Colin Kaepernick. The criticism usually included the words “disrespectful” and “un-American.” After a conversation with former NFL player and retired Green Baret, Nate Boyer, Kaepernick and Reid decided to take a knee during the anthem, much like a flag at half-mast, a sign of respect to a fallen soldier.
Kaepernick’s protest cost him his job. Currently he is a free agent, because no team dares to hire a controversial player who would anger part of their fan base—including season ticket holders, jersey buyers and consumers of beer and hot dogs. But after Donald Trump’s colorful comments against the NFL during a rally in Alabama, a state with no professional football team, the league erupted with support to a protest that they never understood.
I know that you might be very familiar with all these events. They have been all over the media. But this is what people do not understand. This is not about the anthem or the American flag. This is not about Kaepernick or the NFL. This is about fundamental rights and injustice that is committed day in and day out against a people whose God-given rights have been violated since their ancestors were taken out of their homelands and brought into a nation that, according to many ,was lifted under the Word of God to be the shining city on a hill.
Eric Reid wrote to the New York Times that he decided to take a knee with Kaepernick because his faith moved him “into action”. “I looked to James 2:17, which states, ‘Faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.’ I knew I needed to stand up for what is right.” This act can be compared to Martin Luther witnessing the abuses of the church, deciding that the abuse couldn’t go any further and standing to do something to fix it. Luther used his position of privilege as a schooled monk to call on the abuse.
Taking a knee required honor and bravery. It required sacrifice, and Kaepernick is paying the price of his action. The man is currently unemployed, but he is still fighting for what he believes is his Christian duty: to protect the weak and give voice for a people whose only demands are justice and reconciliation. In John 15 Jesus said that there is no greater love than giving the life for your friends and that his command is for us to love each other as he loves us.
I don’t care about the demonstrations. Those are simple reactions against the man who works at the White House. I care about the act of bravery and demonstration of love someone took over remaining quiet and discontent. Just like Luther did a long time ago and revolutionized the Church.