On Kneeling

I have to get this off my chest. This is one person’s opinion. A suggestion, as an alternative to being offended by the peaceful, symbolic actions of others.

The thing is, never before this year have I ever heard of kneeling being a sign of disrespect. If someone can show me an example, from earlier than 2016, I’d like to see it.

When a person takes a knee, all my life until now, it generally means something on the lines of:

* Humility

* Prayer

* Respect

* Subservience

* Supplication (see prayer)

* Repentance

Specifically, kneeling is generally understood as an act of contrition. In the presence of the flag, it can be an acknowledgement that we are “one nation, under God,” seeking God’s favor for that nation, giving thanks on its behalf, or seeking forgiveness for its errors, or help in overcoming its enemies.

The best way to know what is intended by an act of kneeling is to ask the person who kneels, or observe that person’s other words and actions.

But here is what I see as disrespectful:

It is extremely disrespectful toward any human being, made in the image of God, to tell them that the motive for their action is something other than what they say it is.

It is disrespectful to belittle the actual motives of the one who kneels, attributing bad intentions with no evidence, and in the face of evidence to the contrary.

It is disrespectful of the US Constitution to suggest that its provisions, in this case the First Amendment, should be ignored.

Not to put too fine a point on it, it is mightily disrespectful to impose on someone the death penalty, summarily, without due process, or any process of law — the very thing that, along with other extreme injustices, is being “protested” by the act of kneeling, pointing to some of the ways we still fall short of the high ideals represented by the flag and the anthem.

The stated purpose of taking the knee according to those who have done so is to draw attention to some ways in which this nation does not yet live up to its own stated ideals of “liberty and justice for all.” This exalts those ideals, calling us to take them seriously.

Since in today’s climate it seems to be perfectly acceptable to make public statements about someone else’s motives and intentions, let me suggest the following motive for those who take the knee during the playing of the National Anthem.

It’s a prayer, and these words come from the lyrics of another, very patriotic American hymn:

America! America!

God mend thine every flaw!

Preserve thy soul in self-control,

Thy liberty in law!