Respect for all

I chose to go to the beach yesterday over watching football and I clearly picked the wrong Sunday to do so. I am going to begin by saying everyone is right because everyone has a right to their own opinion and a right to express that opinion. This right is one of the many rights granted to us, all people in the United States of America, under the Bill of Rights – freedom of expression.

Trump called out NFL team owners by saying they should fire anyone who takes a knee during the national anthem because it is disrespectful. The NFL disagrees and players protested during Sundays games by taking a knee, standing in locked arms, or staying in the locker room during the national anthem.

This subject is messy but nowadays what isn’t? I understand people have fought and died for our freedom and when someone kneels or disregards the national anthem, it is disrespectful. I think it is disrespectful but I also understand it is not the whole story. When you stand for the anthem you are standing for all our country represents which includes all the things that make up our country – the good, the bad and the ugly.

Soldiers protect our freedom, but what does freedom include? It includes the right to express yourself by exercising your First Amendment rights. I have been reading and watching videos on this and Trump is not talking about race, he denied this has anything to do with race. But that is how things started over a year ago when Colin Kaepernick took a knee during the anthem to protest shootings of unarmed black men by police. This has everything to do with race. Racism, discrimination and injustice are in our country’s history and in our country’s current story as well.

I can’t speak for the NFL or any of its players. But I don’t think they are taking a knee to disrespect our soldiers or our country, I think they are expressing themselves and exercising their freedom. I think we should listen to them because together they are expressing one powerful message – something isn’t right here. They are right, something isn’t right here.

As a country, we would like to believe racism is behind us, we would like to believe we have left the issues of slavery and the Civil Rights Movement in the past. But those things are not true. Our collective past as a country has led us here to a time where racial and social injustice still exist, where there is still discrimination based on the color of a person’s skin. As a county, we would like to believe we have come so far, in some ways we have, but in some ways we haven’t. There are still deeply rooted issues in this country regarding race and they need to be solved.

It is simple to look at this issue as a fight and say one side wins and the other loses. It looks like a fight, Trump called the NFL out and they are responding. But the protests go deeper. The soldiers of this country provide us with freedom and they deserve to be respected. But when we make it that simple, we forget that everyone deserves to be respected and treated equally just because they are human. It is easy to forget that because our country doesn’t wholeheartedly believe in that message. However, I believe that is exactly what the NFL and its players were trying to say – there is something wrong here, there is still racial discrimination, and all people are still not treated equally.

It is not about who is right and who is wrong because both sides are right. Both sides are asking for respect, respect for our soldiers and what the anthem stands for as well as respect for all humans regardless of the color of their skin. We are one human family and we belong to each other. No one person deserves more respect than another person because we are all equal. We all want the same thing, respect. We should all have it and give to one another freely because we are all made up of exactly the same stuff. We are all the same. That is what matters and that is what should be taken away from the protests of the NFL.

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