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Colin Kaepernick Can Sit Because Others Stood

Credit: Ben Margot via AP

He can sit because others were willing to stand. San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick has sat during the national anthem in all three preseason games and said he plans to continue to do so until he sees real change when it comes to racial injustices. The figurative rockets red glare and bombs bursting through the air prove that there is still fighting going on.

Waiting two weeks before speaking out, Kaepernick said, "I'm going to continue to stand with the people that are being oppressed. To me this is something that has to change. When there's significant change and I feel like that flag represents what it's supposed to represent, this country is representing people the way that it's supposed to, I'll stand."

Joining the Founders of the country and framers of the Constitution, Kaepernick said, “This country stands for liberty, freedom, justice for all.” However, assessing the current situation, the millionaire 49ers quarterback noted, “And it’s not happening for all right now.”

Kaepernick joins countless others around the country that are no longer satisfied with the status quo. Their actions disrupt the emotional equilibrium of the country, from political party conventions to now the sacred football stadiums. Their protests create a suffocating sense that something needs to be done. But this is accompanied by a hesitant fear of what might be done. And the line that separates reacting appropriately and overreacting detrimentally is far smaller than desired and usually exceeded because of desire.

To silence their voice is to relegate our veterans’ actions as partially futile, dying for rights individuals cannot use. To encourage their sit-ins is to dishonor those who gave their lives for their rights.

Today, we stand when the colors descend upon the field and place our hand over our hearts as an act of submission. Just as knights showed their submission by removing their visors to reveal their eyes in the presence of royalty, in turn demonstrating they had no sword in their weapon wielding hand, we do the same without visors and weapons today.

But we also stand because there were men and women that stood and died for us. They did not let their problems with our country keep them from giving their life for it. Consider the moving examples of the Tuskegee Airmen, or the 100th Infantry Battalion. They fought for rights and freedoms they were not given, refusing to sit idly by. Instead of providing another reason for the perpetuation of injustice, they demonstrated righteousness. They freely fought, knowing the long arc of the universe bends towards it.

In the biblical narrative, we read that because of Christ’s sacrifice, all things are permitted – including sit-ins – but not all things are beneficial (1 Corinthians 10:29). We are to give honor where honor is due (Romans 13:7). Our giving of honor is not contingent upon their behavior.

You may be free to exercise your speech, but some individuals used their freedom to die for you. As Abraham Lincoln noted, they gave their last full measure of devotion (death) in order that you can experience the fullness of life that this country allows.

Undoubtedly, Colin Kaepernick will continue to sit through the national anthem. He has called attention to the problems, but solutions will not come with his sitting. The rockets' red glare and bombs bursting in air gave proof thro' the night that our flag was still there. The flag reminds us of our freedom to act but the cross reminds the Christian of the need to act – his kingdom come, his will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Sitting is not optional.

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