I wasn’t going to do this, because I’m pretty sure everyone else in America is as sick and tired of talking about the protests going on right now regarding standing or kneeling during the national anthem as I am.
But I have one request.
Everyone STOP. Please, just stop.
This debacle of a conversation has spun in circles for so long that everyone is left feeling dizzy and exhausted, wondering if they are offended, and if so, by whom?
Some of us are offended because some NFL players knelt down during the playing of our national anthem. The protesters are offended because everyone else is offended by the method of protest, saying it is unpatriotic and divisive. The ones offended by the players not standing for the national anthem feel that the veterans and soldiers fighting for our freedom are being disrespected. The ones protesting are saying, “No, you’re missing the point. It’s not about the flag. It’s about inequality and injustice.”
Dizzy yet? Yeah, so am I.
So my plea, again, is this: JUST STOP.
STOP and listen.
I am a white woman who was raised in the south.
It would be dishonest of me to say that racism does not exist. It would be a lie for me to say that even an issue like interracial marriage doesn’t still raise a few eyebrows around here. Racism and inequality are real, sometimes to a much more serious degree than disapproving of interracial marriage, I might add, and this is a sin. Period. We are to love our neighbors as ourselves. Our white neighbors. Our black neighbors. Our brown, blue, and green neighbors.
I love myself enough, that’s not typically the problem. I do, however, sometimes have trouble loving my neighbor as much as myself. Skin color notwithstanding, we as Americans are missing the point…. on both sides.
If we get right down to it, I don’t actually approve of the way the protests are being carried out. I feel that there are very few icons left in our nation that emit an all-encompassing feeling of peace and unity such as do our flag and our National Anthem. It pains me to see these emblems disrespected, along with those who served so selflessly to uphold them.
BUT… there’s a reason there are protests. Our neighbors are hurting. Agree with them or not, if we are Christians who put others before self, we will make the effort to have the conversations. I’m not implying that we set aside our fundamental values and beliefs (unless those include racism and bigotry, of course). I’m simply suggesting that people on BOTH sides of the discussion stop and listen to each other.
Most of us with any common sense will agree that both sides can take things too far. As strongly as I oppose racism, I equally as strongly oppose violent protesting and physically harming people who disagree with you. This is not only as counterproductive as is humanly possible, it is no less sinful than the racism against which you are protesting.
Love thy neighbor as thyself.
Would you bust out your own store windows? Beat up yourself with a baseball bat? Vandalize your own car? Physically harm yourself in any other way?
Of course, not.
I am one hundred and ten times less likely to attempt an open and honest conversation with anyone who supported this type of protest than with someone who reaches out in love and says, “Hey, you know what? I realize we have differing opinions, but if you’re willing to hear me out, I’ve got some things to say.”
Yep. I’m all ears. In fact, most of us (as in Caucasians, i.e. white folks) are open to those conversations, but we don’t know how to have them. Sometimes we even feel discriminated against. I was born white. I can’t help that. But being born white doesn’t equate with being racist… and sometimes… that’s how it feels. I’m just trying this open, honest dialogue thing on for size here.
I realize that not everyone has common sense. Not everyone believes in the concept of love your neighbors as yourself. I know that some of the protestors have gone to such lengths as disrespecting the flag and resorting to violence because they feel like they are not being heard or noticed unless they do so. Negative attention is still attention. I get it.
But I’m tired of it. Let’s stop all this spinning in circles before we spiral out of control. Ignore the ones without enough sense to attempt to make amends and instead reach out to people like me, who are not only trying to understand the roots of the problems, but are ready to help fix them.
My only plea is this, come at me with patience and willingness to hear out my concerns, too. This is America. We’ve been through a lot. Despite what the media often highlights, there is a lot of good left in this world. Let’s work together to find it.