This post was not planned, but resulted from the direction my mind wandered as I was cleaning up the mess I made when I cooked a spaghetti dinner for me yesterday, washing the pots and pans and dishes that I do not put in the dishwasher. Doing dishes is a good time for thinking – I guess most housework is a good time for thinking, because it doesn’t require a whole lot of concentration.
This morning’s thoughts were prompted from divergent opinions expressed by people I care about on the topic of the athletes kneeling during the national anthem, and the subsequent posts that appeared on Facebook as a result. The specific post compared the salaries of the armed forces that fight for our freedoms, and professional athletes in this country – we all know who is underpaid in this country, and it’s not just the military personnel, but that’s not what I want to talk about today.
In trying to fully reconcile my feelings about this action (because my feelings are mixed):
I confess to finding this action disconcerting, and am not sure whether it’s appropriate for the cause they are supporting. BUT, is it truly disrespectful of our flag, of our country, or is it celebrating the freedoms we have in this country – the freedom to speak about things we care about, to demonstrate our support of causes that matter to us? And really, what do salaries have to do with it anyway? I recognize that professional athletes have chosen short-term careers, but I also recognize that most of them go on to positions that pay very well once they reach the age, or their body reaches its limits, and I do not disagree that their salaries are excessive. But so are the salaries of many of the CEOs of corporations and many organizations, and so are the salaries of celebrities. The military, the men who put their lives on the line, are not compensated as they should be. Okay, we all agree on that. Or at least I think most of us agree on that. But how does that relate to kneeling in support of their cause? At least that action is non-violent.
Are we overly sensitive to slights, imagined or otherwise, these days? Do we look for ways to be offended? Could we be more generous, like we are with the uncle who tells the same stories every holiday, or the codger who grumps about everything? The people we know that elicit a response of “well, that’s just Henry, you know”, and then we go on with our lives without being overly offended? Annoyed, maybe, but not protest-volume offended.
I don’t know. I really don’t know. What I do know is that I’m weary of all the anger, the vitriol, the inability to accept differences of opinion. I’m weary of our apparent inability to recognize that most of us have enough, to appreciate what we have – including the freedom to express our differing beliefs. If we want to get upset, why don’t we get upset about the inequalities in this country, and then act upon our feelings. Maybe that’s what those athletes are doing. At least some of them are also putting some of their money where their mouth is.
I love this country. I do not love everything about this country though, anymore than I love everything about the people I love. Live with it.