Category Archives: Principles

Kneeling – WWJD edition

First. I believe it is entirely possible to resent the players kneeling WITHOUT being racist. Many service men and women believe the flag is so much more than a symbol. And when the flag is “disrespected”, they may feel their service is disrespected. This is an extremely unfortunate side-effect of the protest, and I have never heard any of the players say otherwise.

As for us who respect the flag/anthem more than we respect these men for protesting in something they believe this strongly in… I just urge you to think about that. Is the flag and anthem more important than the ideologies the flag and anthem represent? The ideologies of freedom, and equality? The freedom to kneel during the anthem is ABSOLUTELY WHAT MAKES AMERICA GREAT.

I should mention, It is almost shocking to me by how much apparent (or willing) confusion there is on what the protests are actually about. Many believe the NFL folks are actually protesting the flag, or the anthem, or the USA, or literally any other thing besides what this is about. Still others, attempting to be supportive, make this simply about the right of free speech.

But specifically – they are protesting the long-standing (and proven, like, by real studies/sources, like the FBI) bias against the black community, from the police community (generally). Police brutality against the black community – that’s what it’s about.

If you’re understanding of the protests align with any of the misunderstandings outlined above, you’re certainly not alone, but I would hope you’re willing to rethink things in light of what the protests are intended to shine a light on. To miss the point is to miss the whole reason any of this matters.

Shannon Sharpe talks about this same confusion:

And Nick Wright (gets extra amazing at 3:57):

I believe the kneeling angers “us” partly because the issue is not real enough to us as white people, and so it’s easy to make this into a “bigger” thing. Each time one of “them” gets shot, we don’t feel it as if one of our own was shot. You may believe you are not racist, but if you cannot “kneel” in solidarity with “them”, or even grant empathy to the kneeling, then it is a possibility that racism is latent. Racism is not simply hatred for another race, it can also manifest in our underlying “otherism” (which I definitely struggle with). “They” should be treated as “us”.  Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. If we were to do that, we would not need this to be a “bigger” issue. The issue is already big enough!

You may argue that there are better ways to handle this. I’d rather not, but my stance is that I don’t believe there is a more visible way for someone like Kaepernick to protest without worse consequences (e.g. violence, e.g. Charlottesville). The point of a protest is to draw attention to an issue. Argue all you want about the method, but the protest, by that definition, is extremely effective, even with the conflation that followed. Thanks to Kaepernick, and the men who kneel, and the ensuing drama, anger, and incension, I have never thought harder about the issue of police brutality towards minorities, and for the first time, I’ve allowed myself to mentally step into their shoes. And it’s a painful and scary place to be. Maybe they’re all making it up. Maybe they all “deserved it” (really?!). Maybe it’s a big media conspiracy, or generationally poor mental fortitude.

Or maybe there’s just too many witnesses, and too many anecdotes, and believe it or not, too much evidence. And maybe “them” is “us”.

And finally, to believers. Jesus is so much bigger than any nation. While he was here, he told us the two greatest commands. Surprisingly, they were not “respect the flag, stand during the anthem”.

They were 1) love God, 2) love people.

I cannot imagine a Jesus being here on earth and agreeing with our anger over the kneeling. I also cannot imagine him agreeing with the way we have equated God with USA. What I absolutely CAN imagine is Jesus walking over next to Kaepernick and kneeling with him. Because Jesus loves people, even the dark ones, even the young ones, even the disrespectful and wayward ones, even the ghetto ones. Even the self-righteous ones, even the silver-spooned ones, even the nationalists, even the liberals, even the conservatives. Even the Russians, and the North Koreans, and the Trumps, and the Clintons.

The ones Jesus most often left alone (or had the harshest words for) were those who felt strongly in the rightness of themselves. The self-righteous.

The ones commended? Those who stand for others. Or in this case, kneel.

I love our country. What those players are doing on the field make me love our country even more. FREEDOM is an incredible and sometimes unwieldy thing.

Goals, Shmoals

Howdy! Pardon me while I clear out the cobwebs in the blogging corner of this site.

Recently I’ve started following the work of James Clear. He seems to be (at least trying to be) a 21st century version of Stephen Covey or maybe John Maxwell. Coincidentally, today I came across this tweet:

This post by James Clear, as you can imagine, talks about the possible overvaluing of goals. As with Brad, I’ve often been uncomfortable with the ever-present concept of goals-setting.

Why is that? I’m not a slouch with no vision for my future. While I am no Covey, Maxwell or Clear, I consider myself to be a very driven, and most of the time, effective person. But to me, the idea of goals has always felt a bit too much like a prison, or more, a chastising schoolmarm. When I think of goals, often my impatience kicks in. I just don’t have time or mental capacity (I am notoriously bad at multitasking) to worry about that possible future which may never materialize.

But I’m no dummy. I recognize you cannot get to where you want to go unless you know where that is.

You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.

a common, but maybe slightly-out-of-context quote by Wayne Gretzky ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Several years ago, a group I was in read the book, “The Principle of the Path: How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be” by Andy Stanley. In that book, Andy makes the simple case that the best way to get to that future destination (your “goal”) is to get on the path and start walking. And that at any point, we can look down at our feet. If they are not on the path (or pointing the right direction), then we need to “recalculate”, and get back on the path.

This is my favorite way to look at goals. Because one thing I can definitely do is to take the next step in front of me. And trust that somewhere down the line, I will arrive at my destination. It doesn’t seem to be a coincidence that I am involved in many things with this same driving principle. My church‘s motto is “helping you take your next step”. The ministry I am heavily involved with, Celebrate Recovery, is a steps-based recovery program with a key motto, “one step at a time”.

Even with with learning new things… about 8 years ago, I started to learn the guitar. My primary encouragement was the comfort in knowing that even though it was harder than I thought it would be, and I was worse (longer) than I thought I would be, if I just kept playing, I could only keep improving until I die. Depending on how long I lived, I might eventually be decent. :)

This definitely also applies to my job and learning new things in programming (Vue/React anyone?). If I just keep writing/reading/doing, I won’t suck at it forever, and eventually, I’ll even be good at it.

And James Clear’s article resonates with that same principle. He states the case that Systems are often more valuable and productive than setting goals.

Because whether you call it systems, habits, or steps,

We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.

Will Durant

But just like the principle of the path, where you need to know where the path should lead, you cannot build a system if you do not know what that system should accomplish. So as much as I dislike setting goals, they are still an integral part to becoming effective. The difference to me is that goals should not be the… goal… but rather a way to orient us on our paths and provide a structure to our systems.

My heart goes out to the man who does his work when the “boss” is away, as well as when he is at home. And the man who, when given a letter for Garcia, quietly take the missive, without asking any idiotic questions, and with no lurking intention of chucking it into the nearest sewer, or of doing aught else but deliver it, never gets “laid off,” nor has to go on a strike for higher wages. Civilization is one long anxious search for just such individuals. Anything such a man asks shall be granted; his kind is so rare that no employer can afford to let him go. He is wanted in every city, town and village- in every office, shop, store and factory. The world cries out for such: he is needed, & needed badly- the man who can carry a message to Garcia.

— A Message to Garcia By Elbert Hubbard, 1899 (h/t Brian Richards)