Sunday had been a long day. I was excited to settle in for the evening with my two daughters (budding soccer stars) to watch the US Women’s National Team take on the Netherlands. We have roots in both nations and were excited to watch. In addition, their cousin had the honor of walking out with USWNT star Alex Morgan for the national anthem. We saw our her standing with Alex Morgan during the anthem, camera settled on them for a couple of seconds. The camera then panned to the sideline to show Megan Rapinoe. In case you not familiar, she has made headlines by kneeling for the national anthem during both her pro league game and the previous USWNT game in Columbus. The camera parked on Rapinoe kneeling during the national anthem. My eight year old looked at me and asked, “why is she kneeling?”
Could she have asked me any other question? Seriously, any other question. Like, “why is there a giraffe standing in our den?” Instead, she wanted to know what Megan Rapinoe was doing.
Like most things that happen in our nation today, the idea of athletes taking the national anthem as a moment of protest against the inequalities in our country has been a divisive subject. Is it disrespectful to the flag? Does it call more attention to the athlete rather than the issues they care about? The answer to both of those may very well be yes, but I hope that does not stop us from giving this further thought. Like most protests, there is a underlying issue that needs to be given some careful thought.
“Why is she kneeling?” she asks again. At this point, I’m trying to think of any diversion. “Look, the ice cream truck is outside,” or “now is a good time for a family fire drill, everyone outside.”
I still had Jesus on the brain. Jesus liked a good protest. Remember that time he turned over the tables in the temple. That was a protest. Remember when he healed on the Sabbath. Go ahead, there are multiple occasions from which to choose. That was a protest. Do you recall the time he ruined Pilate’s big day by walking straight into Jerusalem for the Passover festival? You guessed it. A protest. If you look carefully, the Gospels are full of protest narratives.
What would Jesus do today in order to call attention to the inequalities in our nation and world? That’s a pretty intimidating question because how one answers has a direct effect on what they should be doing to call attention to the inequalities in our nation and world.
Finally, the camera moved. My 8 year old moved to a far easier question, “can I have a Popsicle.” Yes, yes absolutely you can.” The camera moved, but that question sticks with me today. No matter how we might feel about what someone does during the national anthem, we shouldn’t dismiss the question. It’s an important one.
“Why is she kneeling?”
Grace and peace