The NFL has all sorts of rules and regulations. The only way out for them is to set a rule that you can’t kneel during our National Anthem!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 26, 2017
There has been so much divisive discussion in the news and on social media as of late.
I respect the passion and the (sometimes) intellectual discourse, but I keep coming back to the question: why?
Does attacking an opposing view viscerally and hatefully make us feel better? Happier?
For me, I can absolutely say “no.”
It amplifies and fuels my own unhappiness and anger. It takes my focus away from the goodness and blessings that I do have. It shades the agreements and solidarity that I do experience.
I find so rarely that arguing volatile, emotive points changes the opposer’s view. And, in fact, I often don’t want to change it.
Understand it? Yes. But not change it.
My life became exponentially more peaceful when I learned that people who don’t agree with me don’t require my hate or anger—even if they, well, kinda suck. I don’t need to control them.
My control is found in how I react, how I cultivate my rational and peaceful position, and how I perhaps learn something or gain deeper understanding—even if I still disagree with someone’s view.
You can tell me the grass is blue. I’ll happily discuss why I think it’s not, and hear why you think it is. I’d love to understand how you reached that conclusion, as empirically wrong as it may be. In opening my mind to this approach, I have grown—even if I am not ultimately convinced or enlightened.
My thoughts on the NFL’s current controversy over kneeling and respect for the flag and anthem?
Well, I respect both of these and what they represent. I choose to make the motions that time has taught me: reverence of thought, and hand over heart. I’m happy so many others do as well.
But for those who exercise their right not to? It is not my choice to make.
I don’t know what good or bad deeds they have done in life. What kindness or hate they may have brought forth. And that makes me know I have no right to to judge them on this one thing—or ever.
Lastly, I know that I would be not like to see people “forced” to act out the motions or strike the pose disingenuously. Their minds and hearts are not changed by farce. Nor is mine.
I am only the master of myself—my thoughts, my views, and my actions. Others may (and will) do as they wish, and I may choose to view that as I wish, but I have no desire to force my views upon them blindly, even if I could.
Kindness and communication teach. They are the only true vehicles for manifesting change, in my experience.
If you choose to look past the moment and into the mind of someone you don’t understand, then yes, you have opened the opportunity for understanding and acceptance.
I’m thankful today that I have a choice to stand or kneel.
I’m thankful for those who served.
And I’m thankful that I am free to express myself, even if some disagree.
Author: Bill Lawrence
Editor: Callie Rushton
Copy Editor: Danielle Beutell
Social Editor: Catherine Monkman