Who Will Lead?

Three thoughts I never imagined I’d ponder on a Monday in September:

1.  The NFL and it’s players are under attack, not by worried mothers, not by CTE or brain damage and not by a league-wide plague of herpes….but from our own President of the United States.

Donald Trump:

“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now, out, he’s fired. He’s fired,'” Trump said. “You know, some owner is going to do that. He’s going to say, ‘That guy that disrespects our flag, he’s fired.’ And that owner, they don’t know it [but] they’ll be the most popular person in this country.”

2.  According to near-sighted people, kneeling is the most disrespectful act a person can demonstrate towards the American flag.

“The flag should never be used as wearing apparel, bedding, or drapery. It should never be festooned, drawn back, nor up, in folds, but always allowed to fall free.”

“The flag should never be carried flat or horizontally, but always aloft and free.”

“It should not be embroidered on such articles as cushions or handkerchiefs and the like, printed or otherwise impressed on paper napkins or boxes or anything that is designed for temporary use and discard.”

“The flag should never be used for advertising purposes in any manner whatsoever.”

“No part of the flag should ever be used as a costume or athletic uniform. However, a flag patch may be affixed to the uniform of military personnel, firemen, policemen, and members of patriotic organizations.”

3.  The country is being divided and bred to harbor anger towards fellow Americans by our own President.

The main question I have at this point, is how did we get here?  How did we go from Colin Kaepernick kneeling to protest the injustice and killing of African American citizens due to a systematic problem with the police department, to Donald Trump calling NFL players “sons of bitches” and creating a false-narrative about patriotism?

The NFL timeline since Colin Kaepernick’s protest, a post-Kaepernick era:

  • Aug 14, 2016- Colin Kaepernick sits for the national anthem…..and no one noticed.
  • Aug 20th, 2016- Colin again sits, and again, no one noticed.
  • Aug 26th, 2016- Colin sits and this time he is met with a monsoon of hatred unseen against an athlete in recent memory.  Even the future President (Trump) of the United States took shots at him while on the campaign trail.  Colin went on to explain his protest had NOTHING to with the military.
  • Aug 30th, 2016 Nate Boyer, a former Army Green Beret turned NFL long snapper, penned an open letter to Colin in the Army Times.  In it he expressed how Colin’s actions affected him.
-Excerpt from the letter:
“I’m not judging you for standing up for what you believe in. It’s your inalienable right. What you are doing takes a lot of courage, and I’d be lying if I said I knew what it was like to walk around in your shoes. I’ve never had to deal with prejudice because of the color of my skin, and for me to say I can relate to what you’ve gone through is as ignorant as someone who’s never been in a combat zone telling me they understand what it’s like to go to war.
Even though my initial reaction to your protest was one of anger, I’m trying to listen to what you’re saying and why you’re doing it.
There are already plenty people fighting fire with fire, and it’s just not helping anyone or anything. So I’m just going to keep listening, with an open mind.
I look forward to the day you’re inspired to once again stand during our national anthem. I’ll be standing right there next to you.  Keep on trying … De Oppresso Liber.”
“De Oppresso Liber” is Latin, a motto of U.S. Army Special Forces, which can be translated to meaning “To free the oppressed,” or possibly “Free from having been oppressed.” Or even “Free from the oppressed one.”
Nate Boyer expressed empathy, and Colin Kaepernick responded by inviting Nate to San Diego to speak with him about the topic.  In the 90-minute discussion between the two men, Nate Boyer suggested a compromise that few and proud among us could only HOPE to reach when in the midst of clashing philosophies.
Nate proposed Colin kneel instead of sit for the National Anthem.
But why kneel?
In a military funeral, after the flag is taken off the casket of the fallen military member, it is folded 13 times and then presented to the parents, spouse or child of the fallen soldier by a fellow service member while KNEELING.  The two decided that kneeling for the flag would symbolize his respect for those that paid the ultimate sacrifice while still allowing Colin to peacefully protest the injustices.
Empathy and understanding is what brought Kaepernick and Boyer to a compromise that both felt was a common ground.  The power of discussion, dialogue and listening overpowered the notion of hate or hubris between the two completely different men.
What can we learn from these two men that we obviously can not learn from our “Commander and Chief”?  We MUST look through the fine-brushed canvas painting portraying patriotism as division and really SEE the truth of ourselves and our country.  The toughest window to look out of is a mirror.
The divide in our country permeated by our country’s “leadership” can be mended, but this bitter argument about a man kneeling during the National Anthem has opened Pandora’s box of confused rhetoric.
A nation divided can not stand.
The truth is out there, but understanding the story without rushing to judgement is the key to any growth or compromise.  From this rubble and ash we need a leader to rise, someone to unify and lead.
  • Great leaders remain positive even when under pressure and scrutiny
  • Great leaders exhibit confidence but not arrogance or hubris
  • Great leaders have a sense of humor but also know when to be serious
  • Great leaders embrace failure and use it as a tool for learning and moving forward Great leaders manage setbacks and manage emotions
  • Great leaders listen intently to the opposition and respond articulately
  • Great leaders inspire and motivate
  • Great leaders take responsibility and never place blame
  • Great leaders make decisions based on experience and lessons learned
  • Great leaders lead by example and commit to doing what’s in the best interest of the group   

 Who will stand and lead?

“The First Amendment (Amendment I) to the United States Constitution prohibits the making of any law respecting an establishment of religion, ensuring that there is no prohibition on the free exercise of religion, abridging the freedom of speech, infringing on the freedom of the press, interfering with the right to peaceably assemble, or prohibiting the petitioning for a governmental redress of grievances. It was adopted on December 15, 1791, as one of the ten amendments that constitute the Bill of Rights.”

 

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