The following is social commentary which some may find disturbing. Proceed at your own risk, but be warned.
By now I”m sure most of you are aware of the new NIKE ad campaign featuring Colin Kaepernick. How could you have missed it?
If you know about it, I’m sure you’ve already established an opinion, and that opinion is probably based on what you already thought about Colin Kaepernick’s taking a knee during the playing of our national anthem.
The whole NIKE controversy centers around something Kaepernick says: “Believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything.” In response, besides people burning their NIKE shoes and gear, folks on the internet have created alternative graphics featuring the photos of other people, such as Chris Kyle and Pat Tillman.
As stated in a CBS News story, the message of the ad campaign is pretty simple: “The spot’s universal theme is about athletes pushing for bigger dreams. It features young athletes who compete amid various challenges, touching on issues of gender, disabilities and weight loss, among others.”
And I guess that’s a noble theme because, after all, there’s nothing wrong with praising people for pushing through tough challenges to reach their dreams. But what does that have to do with believing in something so much you might even have to sacrifice everything?
And what is “everything,” anyway?
Essentially, what did Colin Kaepernick actually give up?
But let’s stop for a moment and move this in a different direction. What about the whole reason for kneeling in the first place? Are all police corrupt and intent on murdering anyone of color? Not all cops are white, you know. Heck, just this week I had a wonderful conversation with a black deputy who works with kids at a local high school. Is he the reason people are taking a knee?
Oh, I know, it’s all the white cops who are killing black men, right? Yeah, that’s it. That’s why our country is so bad. That’s why so many are taking a stand by not standing for the National Anthem.
But what about Planned Parenthood? What did the founder, Margaret Sanger, believe about blacks? What color of babies die most often in their clinics?
And the police are the problem?
I can think of a couple hundred officers who died while doing something they believed in on September 11, 2001. They sacrificed everything for total strangers. And, honestly, I could introduce you to scores of officers and deputies in my own county where I serve as a police chaplain who put their lives on the line every day for something they believe in.
You know, every time I hear the arguments for kneeling, specifically the race-related ones, I can’t help but remember those African-American heroes who flew in the Red Tail Squadron, those Tuskegee airmen who battled FAR more racism and bigotry to become some of the best pilots who ever defended this country during wartime. To loosely quote what I heard one of them say not too long ago in response to the whole kneeling thing,
“You have that right, but only because of those who fought and died to defend it. We may have our problems, but there’s no better country in the world. If you think it’s better somewhere else, you’re free to go there – which in its self is a freedom many don’t have.”
Yet, after all I’ve written, what if every policeman was corrupt? What if Colin Kaepernick is the best example of bravery?
There’s still someone who we’d all be better off emulating.
Instead of a football helmet and millions in lost contracts, He wore a crown of thorns and had a stone for a pillow. He could have been king of the world, but they called Him “King of the Jews” and crucified him on a real cross, not just one in social media.
And yet He said, “Render therefore unto Caesar the things which be Caesar’s, and unto God the things which be God’s” (Luke 20:25).
He also said:
But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. – Matthew 5:44-45
Look, NIKE can use whomever they want in their ad campaigns. But I have a strong suspicion that if we would only choose some better heroes – like ones who actually DID sacrifice everything for what they believed (did anyone say Dietrich Bonhoeffer?) – commercials like the one with Kaepernick wouldn’t even be an issue.
Maybe a better observation would be this: Make sure what you believe in is worth sacrificing everything.