Two weeks ago (or several years in terms of news cycles) NFL San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick chose to sit during the playing of the National Anthem. Since then, other sports stars such as NBA star Stephen Curry and soccer player Megan Rapinoe, and others verbally applaud and or sit/kneel along with Kaepernick. The NFL Seattle Seahawks are considering a team unity protest to show their solidarity with Kaepernick.
On the one hand, the response to the issue reminds me of Peter Finch’s “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore” speech in the 1976 movie, Network. His character, Howard Beale, expresses his outrage on live TV and tells his viewers to stick their head out the window and shout along with him. The next scene shows a city block of apartment dwellers doing just that.
On the other hand, I find it both interesting and sad in how the focus of the issue has changed. Initially, Kaepernick was protesting what he deems are wrongdoings against African Americans and minorities in the United States. The uproar had to do with whether or not people thought his actions were disrespectful to the flag. Now however, the issue is on free speech and whether or not an athlete or anyone else has the right to speak their mind.
Personally, I was put off by his actions. I agree that an athlete or anyone else has the right to speak their mind. The manner in which he did it was disrespectful, at least in my opinion. As Christ followers, we are to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15) and season our words with grace (Ephesians 4:29).
What gets lost in the media haze is: (1) Is there a problem of injustice and inequality in America? and (2) How can we deal with and fix the problem? I believe the answer to the first question is, Yes, there is injustice and inequality in America. The answer to the second question, however, will not be found through donating the proceeds of jersey sales or roundtable discussions. The answer will only be found by coming to Jesus Christ.
Ultimately, it is not a simple matter of injustice and inequality. The root of the problem is sin in the heart of each and every person. True equality is only possible when the problem of sin is addressed. It is only through Jesus Christ that we become sons and daughters of God on equal footing. Neither a social protest nor a social program will fix the problem. Only the gospel can make a man or woman new from the inside out.
“for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:26-28).