I have a world of conflicting emotions when I say something that roughly half of my friends disagree with. There’s a desire to cover it up, like I want to post lots of frivilous kitty videos to make sure we’re all okay with each other. And yet, in my moments of strength, I’m willing to fight for the injustice I see with enormous amounts of conviction. That’s why I posted Michael Rose-Ivey’s press conference video this past week. I see injustice.
A lot of you see disrespect. I realize that allegiance to the flag means more to you—whether it’s a generational thing or an occupational thing—–than it does to me. I grew up saying the pledge in school, and I really love singing the national anthem; I take a lot of pride in it actually. But I don’t feel the same amount of frustration as many of you do when football players don’t stand at attention, facing the flag, with their hands over their hearts. (What I do see is some sad men who have listened to their consciences and are following through with a protest against our nation’s ability to turn a blind eye to injustices that they themselves are not experiencing.) While I wholeheartedly support our military personnel—today and in days past—I have heard over and over again that men and women died for the opportunity to live in a country where people disagree in a multitude of ways. And like it or not, the flag represents that freedom.
What I really see is that we have a trust issue at play in our nation. A lot of people don’t trust that certain black men and women are telling the truth about the way they’ve been treated by authorities. I recognize this trust issue, to a very different degree, because I have had people in my world who do not trust my ability to make good decisions for myself when it comes to my health. The fact that they question me, drill me, tell me they’ve found other methods for my treatment indicates a lack of their trust for me, as an educated adult, to seek the answers I need for my own welfare. Though race issues are different, I firmly believe we have a listening problem and a trust problem.
To my fellow Christians, or people who claim to be followers of Christ, we ought to be disturbed by our fervor for the flag OVER our fervor for Jesus and the very people he died for. In our nation and around the globe, Christians are being persecuted because they are Christians, and yet I’ve heard more outrage over the American flag and a song celebrating it than concern for those murdered during a prayer service in Charleston a year ago. Why is this?
A big thanks goes out to the friends and family who have dialogued with me this past week even as they disagreed with me. THIS is where unity begins, in dialogue, in empathy, in trying to see life from the other’s point of view. Surely we can figure out how to rejoice with those who rejoice, and mourn with those who mourn, whether they live next door, on the other side of town, or across the world.