To stand or to kneel, that is the question." Had Shakespeare penned Hamlet in America in the fall of 2016, he might have had this silent protest on his mind as we all have in the opening week of the NFL season. Even MLB players like Adam Jones spoke into the clear disconnect by calling baseball a "white man's sport." Jones made a clear point, and one that speaks to the truth - baseball has been and will continue to be dominated by us white guys. The expense of club sports will keep it that way. Another baseball man threw his comments in this week - former MLB Manager Tony LaRussa. LaRussa said the following:
"I think that's disrespectful, and I really question the sincerity of somebody like Kaepernick. I remember when he was on top. I never heard him talk about anything but himself. Now all of a sudden he's struggling for attention and he makes this big pitch. I don't buy it. And even if he was sincere, there are other ways to show your concern. Disrespecting our flag is not the way to do it."
Doesn't LaRussa make a great point here? Is it about the protest or is it about him? I think this is a fair question. I'm just not sure how to gauge the authenticity of a guy with Kaepernick's background. I don't know the guy outside of what you can read on Wikipedia, but what social and racial unrest did Kaepernick experience in Northern California halfway between San Jose and Yosemite? Is this really about something bigger than him?
How might Jesus coach Kaepernick when social issues are at hand? I wonder if Matthew 22:17-22 gives us a potential answer:
“Tell us, then, what you think. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?” But Jesus, aware of their malice, said, “Why put me to the test, you hypocrites? Show me the coin for the tax.” And they brought him a denarius. And Jesus said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” They said, “Caesar's.” Then he said to them, “Therefore render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's.” When they heard it, they marveled. And they left him and went away.
Maybe Jesus would tell him that honoring the flag is giving Caesar what is Caesar's, in a sense. Stand up and then get out of the spotlight to make real change. No significant change is going to come from Kaepernick or anyone else kneeling. History tells us that. These protests come and go quickly in the modern news cycle. We won't remember it in a month.
The only people truly equipped and empowered to make significant change in the area of social unrest are those of us in the local church. Again, history teaches us that as well. Change happens with our neighbors first. Loving your neighbors and expanding your areas of service will allow real change to happen.
On one thing I am sure we can all guarantee - no change will happen while we listen to talking heads on a television talking about football players. We can give to God what is God's by getting out to make some change locally. Once we do that, we'll be able to watch this silly debate about standing or kneeling drift away.