Today our nation is torn apart, polarized and in each others face because a few men are taking a knee during the National Anthem. Billy Hill was talking about this issue with a friend the other day and discovered that his friend was in great turmoil over this kneeling controversy and is on a journey. A journey to try and understand.
Billy Hill's friend said to Billy Hill, "this just does not make sense, why all the emotional explosions over issues that I am sure everyone agrees on: (a) freedom of speech, (b) right to protest, (c) right to be offended. Why is everyone venomously frothing at each other's throats because we all agree with these rights, right?" Billy Hill's friend even got involved in a FB argument just to jump into the midst of this controversy. He admits that he pushed the limits as he engaged in this FB argument with a young lady but he was very careful to never disagree with anything she said. All Billy Hill's friend would do is state that he had the right to be offended by the actions and that employers had the right to fire employees for not following rules if they chose to do so. He was sure that the young lady agreed with him, but she was too busy making her points to even realize that nobody was disagreeing with her. It even resulted in name calling where Billy Hill's friend was straight out called a "disrespectful rude ass". And honestly speaking, Billy Hill has felt the same way about his friend on more than one occasion.
But after sitting down and taking a moment, Billy Hill's friend pondered a very deep question, a very eloquent question, a haunting question . . . that question is "Huh?". He did not get it. Now, his observations were this: Kaepernick took a knee, nobody REALLY knows why, nobody but God really knows his heart, but he did it. A few followed suit. A few were outraged that Kaepernick lost his job or did not get resigned. Then President Trump says that the owners should fire anyone that takes a knee during the National Anthem. Well, that is when all hell broke loose. And when I say all hell broke loose I really mean that it was straight from hell. The people that do not like Trump said he was a racist. Trump says it was about respect not race. And just like Kaepernick, lets assume that nobody but God really knows Trumps heart or the heart of the football players taking a knee. But instead, lets focus on the fact that what Trump said stirred the pot and whole lot of shit floated to the top.
So it happened that Billy Hill's friend ended up spending last Saturday with a group of friends that he loves and respects dearly, regardless of the fact that they are all very politically and sociologically diametrically opposed to how his friend sees life. But his friend kept asking them the question "what do you feel about the kneeling controversy". Billy Hill's friend disclosed to some that he felt protesting was intellectually and physically lazy. It was just saying "hey, here is a problem" but then expecting someone else to fix it. One dear Irish born friend of his challenged him and said why can only poor people protest. His friend said she had heard many say that these well paid athletes should just do their job and work at fixing the problem rather than protesting. But she said why don't they have the right to protest? And besides, she totally disagreed that protesting was lazy. She said it is the way the system works. It is how issues are brought to the surface. She said it takes a lot of time to get over injustices, and there has not been enough time in America, not close to enough time to get past the racial issues that plagued our country. Even Billy Hill's friend's young daughter called him out and said "but what about Martin Luther King and what he accomplished with by protesting?" Billy's friend pondered.
Billy Hill's friend reflected on a FB "discussion" that had included some very close friends of his. One such friend was a black man that Billy's friend is involved in a ministry with it. His black friend said some huge things that rocked Billy Hill's friend back on his heels. From memory, some of these statements were like "the flag does not represent black people in the same way it represents white people", "justice and equality are just words", "there is no equality in this nation".
Then one of Billy's friend's friends posted an article that can be seen on this link:
What you might be missing in the kneeling debate
I strongly encourage you to read it. Especially the article linked to within that article that can be found here: Lynching In the United States
The first article listed above made a statement that really sobered up Billy's friend, it was similar to what his Irish friend had said. That statement simply says:
What you’re seeing on the field before these games is not just about the last few years—it’s about the last 400.
Billy Hill's friend is still on this journey. He wants to understand it, he wants to get it. He is not there yet but he is beginning to see things differently. Will he ever be able to step into the shoes of a black man in America? Probably not. But this is his observation as of today:
Have you ever witnessed the frenzy that occurs when a fight breaks out at school? Two people really trying to hurt each other and everyone standing around cheering. What the hell is up with that? Well roll that clock back just a few years and imagine that same spirit, that same frenzy, that mob dragging a young black man or woman to a tree, wrapping a noose around his or her neck and stringing them up. Or poking them with a hot iron, or slowly burning and torturing that person. All of this done based on unproven allegations, maybe fabricated lies, with no judge, no jury, just a mob foaming at the mouth and jeering the torture. Sounds similar? Sounds a lot like what Jesus of Nazareth also went through. But things like this happened during some of our lives, like 1955 for the child Emmett Till. Just shortly before we put a man on the moon, people were being killed in such lynchings.
What about September 16, 2008? Remember a young 24 year old kid named Brandon McClelland that was dragged to death beneath a truck by two evil white men in Paris Texas? Or what about 10 years earlier when James Byrd was dragged behind a pick-up truck along an asphalt road, remaining conscious throughout most of the ordeal and only dying when his body hit the edge of a culvert severing his right arm and head. Yet he was dragged another mile and dumped in an African-American cemetery in Jasper Texas.
Do a google search and read about the lynchings in the United States, these were our fathers, our uncles our families that did these things. We are outraged by the events of 9-11, but what about 4000 black men, women and children that died at the hands of a lynching mob? Were these deaths justified? How will we ever know, they did not get a chance to make their case. But suppose only 10% were not justified, or even just 1 individual, one little black kid?
Yes, there is a lot of hurt. People say "it was the Europeans that brought the blacks to America, why don't they protest against them?" Others say, "if they don't feel equal, let them go back to where they came from".
Wait a dang minute. There is no "where they came from". The black people in America today are Americans. They have fought for this flag. They have fought for their freedom. And they have some deep wounds from the past. Billy Hill's friend is beginning to see that this controversy makes sense. You see, when another young black man gets shot on the streets without a trial, it rips open these wounds from the past. It is like after Jesus was beaten until his back was the consistency of hamburger meat, then wrapped in a robe, and then after the wounds began to heal and the scabs were encased within the robe, the soldiers ripped the robe off his back and all those wounds were ripped open again. Is this what is happening within the hearts of our black Americans?
Here is a hard question to face: what difference is there between how the black people have been treated in America and how Hitler and his army treated the jewish people? Our nation stood up against that injustice, we chased the perpetrators down, we had the sentenced to prison and death for their war crimes. How many times has Billy's friend said "hey, the civil war was not about slavery, it was about States rights"? Shame on him. What a blinded way to side step the black American holocaust rather than dealing with it.
So Billy Hill's friend is saying this, the heated frenzy that has risen out of the "take a knee" protest is not warranted when you just look at the surface. So maybe, if you can, take a moment. Try to look past the event, try not to judge what is in the heart of these men on their knees. Sure, one may do it to follow the crowd, another may do it because he hates Trump, one may do it because he hates America. But maybe, just maybe some these Americans are saying we are hurting. We are afraid. We know what it is like to be walking home from school and have a car full of white guys drive by and hit us with broom sticks because we are black kids living in an affluent neighborhood, or chasing us home and calling us horrible names.
There is much division in this UNITED States. And it seems like the media and the politicians feed on this and use it to bolster their position and jockey for power. Maybe they throw fuel on the fire to further the division. But screw the politicians and screw the media. Lets look at our fellow Americans as humans with hearts and feelings and children and families. Billy Hill's friend is as WASPy as can be. He is a disrespectful rude ass but he is hell bent on taking this journey onward. I hope that maybe you also will join in the journey. When your child says their stomach hurts, do you tell them to just get over it? When your child says someone is bullying them at school, do you tell them to toughen up? When a man is lying in a ditch having been beaten and robbed by hoodlums, do you walk by on the other side of the street like the priest and the Pharisee, or do you have compassion on the man like the Samaritan did in Jesus' parable of the Good Samaritan?
My word, what would our country be without our black Americans? Holy smokes, they make our country laugh, the move our country with songs, they light up the silver screen, they have taken the great American past time to new levels of competition, they govern American cities, states and even our nation, they teach children in schools, they have brought great inventions, they have brought great healing, they have helped to build our roads, grow food to feed this nation and other nations, they have started and run business, they have been shot dead in the streets for speaking out that they are hurting.
One of Billy Hill's friend's favorite movies is What Dreams May Come with the late Robin Williams staring as Chris Nielson. The quote is:
That's when I realized I'm part of the problem.
Not because I remind you. But because I couldn't join you.
Billy Hill's friend has realized you have two options. Further this controversy by standing in our own self righteousness and telling the other side to stay in their place or, closing our mouths for a moment, and listening, and imaging the hurt, the fear, the helplessness of 400 years of bad people doing bad things. Don't be offended by this whatever position you may be in today, but "Make America Great Again" and "America First". Two great concepts but has to start with me and you looking past a protest that we may find offensive, looking past the fact that a black man that does spectacular things on the football field and makes a lot of money for doing it is just one generation away from the atrocities mentioned above. Lets stop being part of the problem and lets join in with our fellow Americans, extend grace, ask forgiveness, show love and acceptance, LISTEN and then listen some more. Don't try to win an argument, instead, try to understand. We cannot fix it, we cannot undo it, but we can embrace our fellow Americans and walk through this together. That is how we put America First.
Billy Hill Here - I like it neat