Friday, September 29, 2017

Jaki Jean on to Kneel or not to Kneel

During the last days, surrounding the very public debate about what is a very complicated, passionate & all too divisive issue created by our Apricot in Chief, I have been thinking.

As those close to me understand, Jaki Jean thinking is a very dangerous & often disturbing thing.

And I have also been debating with myself.  Trying to put into words my position in a controversy designed to appeal to the Apricot’s base.   Designed to draw in otherwise rational human beings in order to divert the nation’s focus. 

To divide us, divert the nation from the Russian investigation, the failure of those controlling Congress (& ostensibly the Executive branch) to pass any health care reform that would benefit American citizens.  Actually, the failure to pass any substantive legislation that would benefit the majority of American citizens.

What complicates the debate for me is that I understand both sides of whether to kneel or not to kneel.
And I understand that it is so complex, even without what I firmly believe was intended as a distraction by the Apricot.

It is not a Liberal vs. Conservative, Patriot vs. Rebel, Democrat vs. Republican, proud American vs. Ungrateful, Privilege vs. Less. 

It is about so much more.

About symbols that mean respect for those who have served & continue to serve in the military, family history, personal experience.  And about the First Amendment.

It is about something that has pitted Americans against Americans

At least on social media.

During the social media discussion, two of my friends, a mother & her son, disagreed. 

Reading & watching how that disagreement played out between two loving individuals over something about they disagreed was amazing.

And in the end, two people deeply connected, respected the Other’s opinion.

Or at least that is how Jaki Jean read it.

What has been forgotten & lost in the passion & complexity of the debate to kneel or not to kneel is that the actions of why those kneeling in protest of the treatment of people of color by too many police departments.

A symbolic act protected by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

The entire debate brought me back to my own private act of protest.

No doubt influenced by the Civil Rights movement & growing up in a home with parents who did not pass on a legacy of racism to their children.

And three too many assassinations.

At some point, in the later years of elementary school, I began to doubt the veracity of the words of the Pledge of Allegiance.

So, I began my own act of protest & resistance during the required daily affirmation of reciting it each morning of school.

I began to edit the Pledge.

Sometimes, I left out the most disturbing phrase for me, inserting a blank space with an ellipsis . . .

Because I did not believe the country of my birth, the country that indoctrinated me to believe it was the New Jerusalem & the light on the hill, was a country of “liberty & justice for all.”

Sometimes, I simply rewrote the disturbing phrase & recited “with hope for liberty & justice for all.”

I liked that revision.  I still do.

Because I want desperately to believe in the hope for “liberty & justice” for all.

During the discussion of my two friends, mother & son, her son asked his friends on FB:

So, my mom and I had an interesting discussion this morning about the NFL issue. Ultimately, our thoughts on the issue revolve around what the flag and anthem mean to us. That one central definition colors our perspective on the issue as a whole. So without giving away what either one of us thought... what do those two symbols mean to you?
And please keep this civil. Attacks on anyone else commenting will be deleted.

I had to think about & ponder his question.  And the understanding he expressed:

Ultimately, our thoughts on the issue revolve around what the flag and anthem mean to us.

For me, the flag, the anthem, & the pledge are a promise of achieving what I believe the United States stands for & fights to protect.  All of it. 

Beginning with the First Amendment.

What strikes me as something missing in the contentious debate is the unfortunate truth that civil discourse is no longer the norm for debate & disagreement.

Not from the Apricot-in-Chief, not on social media except when individuals request it or delete the posts by those who refuse to follow the request.

So, what is my position on to kneel or not to kneel?

Everyone has a forum – family, friends, church groups, in these days, a Facebook page. 

In my world, a blog one writes for one’s own survival & sanity.  I

Everyone has the right to use the forum they possess.  Under the First Amendment.

Those who have a forum with a far greater audience have the same right.

Those of us who may or may not disagree with the act of kneeling, the use of the forum, have the right to disagree.  Or not.

Would I kneel during the National Anthem if I felt strongly about what I believed was an injustice & inequality?

As the granddaughter, daughter, sister, niece, cousin, aunt, of so many who served in the military & are still serving  for what I believe is the promise of the United States, I would kneel for that promise of the anthem & the pledge & the flag.

Because I still feel assured that someone kneeling or standing next to me would help me to rise again.

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