Would You Take A Knee During The National Anthem?

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San Francisco 49ers backup quarterback Colin Kaepernick has started a movement.  And his followers are growing.

It seems like everybody is doing it. Taking a knee during the National Anthem, that is. It’s a protest vote started by Colin Kaepernick. He made national headlines recently, not for his play on the gridiron, but for taking a knee during the national anthem as a way of protesting racial injustices and police brutality in the country.

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A number of players on other National Football League teams have joined Kaepernick and also taken a knee during the anthem; while others have raised clenched fists while standing, including New England Patriots Martellus Bennett and Devin McCourty, as another way to silently protest.

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And protesting during professional football games has trickled all the way down into the high-school ranks, as Doherty Memorial High School junior Mike Oppong took a knee during the national anthem Friday in a season-opening game against Leominster at Commerce Bank Field at Foley Stadium in Worcester.

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On Sunday, Oppong tweeted to his followers on Twitter that “My coach just called me a couple minutes ago telling me that the coaches and principals decided that I should be suspended for 1 game.”

Oppong’s Twitter handle is @Oppong_5 with the name on the account “BLACK LIVES MATTER.”

He even got a retweet from Kaepernick’s own Twitter account.

A #FreeOppong hashtag started spreading like wildfire on Twitter after Oppong announced he would be suspended for his protest. There was positive feedback and support for Oppong on social media and some hate, however.”

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And here’s what Leonard Pitts Jr. of the Detroit Free Press Printed:

“It keeps getting bigger.

One might have expected last month’s protest by San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, his refusal to stand for the national anthem, to have blown over by now. Instead, it has caught fire. Sunday, members of the Miami Dolphins, New England Patriots and Kansas City Chiefs all staged protests of their own. This was in addition to earlier protests by soccer star Megan Rapinoe and members of the Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks. There have even been reports of the phenomenon spreading to high school and college games.

All of this in support of Kaepernick, who said, “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.” Apparently, he’s struck a nerve.

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For the record, yes, I do stand when the anthem is played. But I don’t do it for America. America breaks my heart on a daily basis. So, I stand for what America is supposed to be, what America could be if it ever took seriously its founding principles, including that “self-evident” truth about equality. But America has yet to do that, and Kaepernick is hardly the first person to notice.

Drew Sharp said this:

Un-American? Colin Kaepernick is anything but that.”

And  Colin Kaepernick said this:

I don’t want to kneel forever.”


On the last night of his life, Martin Luther King said:

All we say to America is, be true to what you said on paper.”

Kaepernick is not even the first athlete to snub the rituals of American patriotism and refuse to “stand” for the National Anthem. This is what one baseball player had to say:

I cannot stand and sing the anthem. I cannot salute the flag; I know that I am a black man in a white world.”

 The baseball player’s name was Jackie Robinson.

A Devilish Difference: God Doesn’t Like Ugly

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It’s still true. It’s still a proven fact. And it’s still being proven, even as we speak; one person can make a difference, for good or for ill. Draymond Green missed Game 5 of the 2016 NBA Finals. More to the point, Green was suspended for accumulating one too many flagrant fouls in the playoffs, and his stupidity and his absurdity cost his team a win, and perhaps a championship.

It’s a proven fact that without Green, the Golden State Warriors saw red. Draymond Green is a fierce, ferocious fellow, full of energy and vitality. His presence makes a difference on the team, and his absence does as well. Yet Green tends to think with his mouth and talk with his arms (and legs for that matter), and the unintended but inevitable consequence is that he gets caught with both hands in the cookie jar.

It’s still being proven that when emotions and passions and feelings and moods get in the way, bad things happen. These various and varying, sundry and sultry, internal intangibles tend to get in the way and take control and take the place of realistic rationale and right reason. Consequently, illogical and illegitimate thinking and thoughts intentionally come to mind. And as we all know, thoughts invariably become things.

It’s still true that love is stronger than hate. Martin Luther King Jr. said that

returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars … Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.

But athletes are taught to dislike and even hate their opponents to the point that they will do almost anything to win and/or to wound their “enemy.” But fierce rivals need not go to the extreme and hurt or mishandle members of the opposing team. “Hate of other people ‘is really displaced hate of oneself,’ psychologists say. And ultimately, feelings of self-hate motivate people to restore their sense of significance through action.”

It’s still true that one person can turn the tide and save the day. It’s also still true that one person, especially one lone gunman, can destroy the day and snuff out the lives of lay persons unnecessarily. Unfortunately, another mass shooting has turned into a mass killing and the subsequent motley, mutinous massacre leaves us doubting and pondering and questioning society as a whole, and probing and examining and investigating our own individual values and mores in specific.

It’s truer now than ever; our morals and ethics and tenets and beliefs and practices are on trial. They’re being put on the witness stand, and we’re all forced to do the swearing in and the direct questioning and the cross-examining in order to peel back the layers of bogus, bigoted, artificial flavoring and coloring to get down to the truth.

In the scheme of things, it doesn’t matter that Pulse was a Gay night club. Not when 49 innocents were gunned down in the prime of their lives by a lone gunman who determined that he wanted to make a difference; a decidedly destructive, diabolical, devilish difference at that.

So is it wrong to compare Green to the shooter in Orlando? Maybe so, but my mother taught me that God doesn’t like ugly. Make no mistake about it, doing the wrong thing is still wrong, no matter who you are.

Philly Cheesesteaks: Simply The Best

GenosLast night I  ate a Philly Cheesesteak and I was stuffed like a pig. Every time I’m in town I try to get a  hoagie or a cheesesteak and I’ve never been disappointed. As always, it was really good grub. And this is not a plug for Pat’s or Geno’s Steaks in South Philly. Growing up I NEVER went to either place, not because I didn’t want to, but because I didn’t have to. I could get a good steak from Pagonos or a dozen other places in my hood, if you get my drift. Now where were we?

Simply The Best. Philly Cheesesteaks  are simply the best. Period. Case closed.  End of discussion. There is no steak sandwich better. It doesn’t matter where in Philly I get my steak, it’s always good. Always. And that’s how we should live our lives. Especially if you profess to be a Christian.  Because Christ taught us that the best is what he expects of us.  And nothning less.

No one, and I mean no one outside of Philly, can make a hoagie or cheesesteak  like we make ’em here in the City of Brotherly Love.  So if you haven’t made the trip, do yourself a favor and plan the trek.

And speaking of the best, the Brady Bunch just did it again. Tom Brady and his favorite receivers, Julian Edelman and Rob Gronkowski, put in a very Patriot-like performance as they kicked KC clear out of the playoffs, 27-20, in a game that the Chiefs could’ve taken but the Pats just weren’t going to give away.

And that’s today’s lesson: there’s a nexus between God and sports and cheesesteaks. Philly cheesesteaks. It’s the same lesson that we learn in life day after day and in sports play after play. Give your best and nothing less.  And don’t make mistakes. At least not stupid ones. But if you do make a mistake or commit an error or get called for a foul you must overcome it, just like Martin Luther King, Jr.  taught us. We shall overcome – not necessarily overnight – but ostensibly overtime.

So come to Philly (you’ll thank me later).  Get yourself a real cheesesteak or hoagie and don’t settle for anything less than the best.

 

Rise To The Occasion

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Let God arise, let his enemies be scattered: let them also that hate him flee before him.  But let the righteous be glad; let them rejoice before God: yea, let them exceedingly rejoice.    Ps 68:1, 3, KJV

In the greatness of your majesty, you overthrow those who rise against you.    Exodus 15:7

The Louisville Cardinals won the 2013 NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship after their star point guard Kevin Ware went down with a gruesome leg injury during one of the tournament games.  As he lay on the floor in obvious pain, his words to his coach and is teammates were “I’ll be OK . . . Just win the game.” His teammates compensated for his absence, rallied from double-digit deficits in almost every game, and rose to the occasion by defeating Michigan in a thrilling final.  Their motto was “Rise to the occasion.”

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God has an uncanny ability; He has the ability to rise to the occasion. God can and God will rise to any and every occasion, whatever the occasion may be.  He will rise.  When the children of Israel cried unto God because of their malicious and malevolent taskmasters, God came down and rose to the occasion.  When Leah was hated by Jacob and mistreated by Laban, God rose to the occasion. When wicked Haman plotted against the people of God and tried to rise against them to destroy them, God rose to the occasion.

God is omniscient, He is omnipotent, and He is omnipresent.  He is all-powerful, all-knowing, and everywhere present. There is no situation that He is not aware of; no confrontation that he cannot handle, and no place He cannot arrive at just in time.  He is the Almighty God. The Eternal, Everlasting God.  He cannot lie. What He says He will do, and He will do just what He says. 

God will rise to every occasion. Martin Luther King Jr. said that “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” Where ever there is sickness or sadness, poverty or pestilence, oppression or repression, God will descend from the Heavens and rise to the occasion.

God will right every wrong. Every form of oppression will be overthrown, be it racism or sexism or ageism. God came to overthrow all “isms.”  God called Abraham at the age of 75 to debunk ageism; God called a woman called Deborah to be the Judge of Israel to debunk sexism; and God called a woman named Ruth, a Moabite from the other side of the tracks, to marry Boaz and be the ancestress of Jesus Christ to debunk racism.  The words of the great writing prophet are true:“Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain:  And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed . . .” (Isaiah 40:4-5a, KJV).

Oh belittled and beleaguered believer, rest assured that God will rise to your occasion. He rose to the occasion for Moses and the children of Israel when they needed a way out of Egypt and a way through the Red Sea.  God rose to the occasion for Elijah when he sent fire from heaven on top Mt Carmel. He rose to the occasion for Joshua and the walls of Jericho came ‘a tumbling down.  You can rise to the occasion just like the Louisville Cardinals did. And God will rise to the occasion for you.

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