Note: The following was written in response to a story about a PA state senator’s rebuke of the NFL and the Pittsburgh Steelers, in light of players’ refusal to stand for the National Anthem. It was originally published as a Facebook comment on the Saucon Source page and is published as an op-ed with the writer’s permission.
In the Armed Forces, you take a knee when you are tired and need assistance. In sports, you take a knee when your teammate on the field is injured. A man will take a knee to ask for a woman’s hand in partnership. In times of need, we get on our knees to pray.
We have a president who tweets before he thinks; who calls people “sons of b*****s” and yet is silent on the actual cause for the need to kneel. His residency in our country’s most revered house has allowed a portion of our country to feel like taking a knee is equivalent to burning the flag, when it is not. Taking a knee is a plea for justice and equality, not a shout of arrogance. It’s giving a notice that we are injured and divided, and not a sign of weakness or elitism. It is a request for partnership and recognition of our common humanity. It is a call for prayer and unity and not a disrespectful move against our country’s democracy, that was, in fact, fought so courageously for by all colors and races.
Yes, the athletes today are taking a public stand. They are kneeling, linking arms with public servants and saluting with heads bowed. They are not turning their back to the flag or the anthem. Because if we stay silent about the things that matter, when will things change? If I take a knee on some field somewhere, no one would ever know or care. But when people who have a larger influence decide to use it in a passive and peaceful way it makes a much bigger impact and sends a message to the top that things need to change. Or would you rather just comment on and gossip about and emulate their clothes and homes and cars? Does that matter more to you?
When we are just as angry about a forced and unjust knee in our brothers’ back as we are about a peaceful but powerful knee on the field, we won’t have to take a knee anymore.