I am feeling a little guilty that I haven’t been writing at all. In fact, early this weekend my fingers were itching to tap away at keys. Posts jumble around in my brain while Ray and I try to muddle through what we call our “busy season.” In a Game of Thrones reference, we spent our summer saying, “winter is coming…” Winter is here.
I have high schoolers researching colleges, balancing extra-curricular schedules with responsibilities we pile on while navigating a scary social scene and lets add that today’s teen has to post EVERYTHING on social media as they juggle the crazy schedules we help impose. I have one who is tutoring, playing in the marching band and making her younger sister have nightmares about the impending end of the world. I have one with crazy social stress, trying to push herself in her sport and beating herself up over the mind game it provides while keeping her grades up. They are finding their own way in a crazy liberal area with parents that have conservative views. I have another child who is in a sports/self confidence slump, didn’t get elected to the SCA and is going to bed crying because the weather patterns, the news and her sisters freaking her out leads her to conclude every night before bed that she might not wake up. (She really is her mother’s daughter.) Fall is literally our busiest season all the way around, including Ray’s work and I decided to throw in a long term sub job just for giggles. All that and we are trying hard not to lose Jack in the melee.
The news over the weekend hurt my heart. No the news over the last year has completely broken it.
Here’s what I told my children today. Pray. My heart lies with my police officer family. I will concede that there are parts of our country where we need to help the community and law enforcement engage in a better relationship to protect the community. I think there are by far more compassionate, kind, good police officers than bad ones. In the same way that there are far more compassionate, kind, good, immigrants, Christians, Muslims, Hispanics, Asians… You see where I’m going with this? In our new 24-hour news cycle dripping with more vitriol than an episode of Game of Thrones, we forget there is good in the world. We forget to be the good and I don’t want my children to ever forget.
I told my children that every football player has the right to stand, kneel, hide in a locker room or lock arms. They can do whatever they want without fear that the government with prosecute them. You can’t do whatever you want without consequences. Consequences for kneeling could include being fired from a job or a loss of profits. If you want to stand for something, there is always a price. If we read the Bible we see God working through persecution. I want my kids to be aware of consequences because I can tell you there are kids that I teach that have apparently never seen a consequence in their life. Our constitution is about the power of the government. It still gives power to people. The people can be kind and compassionate or they can be cruel. I want my kids to understand the constitution and their rights. I told them that I also want them to understand how to be good human beings.
I told them that their Dad went to war so football players can kneel. I told them that even if they didn’t mean it, every person (Are you listening to me Marcus Mariota? Because you broke my heart a little.) who took a knee or hid in a tunnel hurt him. I told them about Arleigh McCree again. I told them I grew up knowing there are horrible, awful, evil people in the world before most people knew. I told them Arleigh died fighting the villains and we have a free country because of people like him and I will always stand up for his flag, my flag. I reminded them that their uncle was a police officer, a good one. I’m going to tell them that I’m concerned. I’m going to remind them that even when I’m disappointed at the way our president chooses to present himself, this country is based on some pretty great ideals and principles and I’m proud of it. I told them that I will stand for the “Pledge of Allegiance” and the national anthem. I’m going to tell them unless they have a good reason I will be very disappointed if they don’t stand but it is their choice.
I also told them that I understand there are many reasons, to stand, kneel, lock arms or turn your back on the flag. I’m afraid for the message we are sending with such vitriol. I’m talking about both sides. Like I have been shocked and appalled at some of the sideline behavior I’ve seen at my own children’s games and the message that behavior sends to other teams. The message we are sending yelling at each other isn’t a good one when we are still at war. Newsflash, we have service members in harms way. Whether you want to believe it or not, the messages we are sending as a nation is making it worse for them.
Like I tell my kids when they get wound up and put out with each other, “Just stop it!” Everyone go your corner. Stop posting. Stop talking. Stop it all. Take a breath. Say a prayer. Then, let’s all sit down and have a cup of coffee and talk like we love each other. It’s the same thing I tell the kids. Take a breath. Say a prayer. We all live in a great country that has changed it’s ways so much. Let’s work together. “Liberty and justice for all,” isn’t a pipe dream. We live in a failed and fallen world and we will never pick ourselves up if we can’t be kind to each other.