It has been a while since I’ve written anything for my blog. I’ve been so incredibly busy and/or tired (usually as a result), that I have not really had time to sit down and write out what’s on my mind.
I had hinted in a few past blog entries that I started the ball rolling on a potential big change in my life. Unfortunately, this morning was when I found out that the big change is not going to happen. I managed to get closer to the change than I thought might be possible, but in the end, I was not the right fit for the new opportunity. They were looking for someone with a little different skill set than I possess, as I kind of thought might be the case after my interview, and today I received the confirmation of that instinct.
This should not really bother me. I understood going in that this might be somewhat of a longshot, and that as exciting as the opportunity was, and as much as I would have liked to be a part of this new direction, the odds were not in my favor. Still, it burns to hear that you aren’t what someone is looking for. I imagine the feeling is the same or worse for people that experience that message in their personal relationships.
So, I’m back to square one. No big change on the horizon any longer. There are decisions that I may need to make in the future, but for now, it’s all status quo.
Kneeling. Locking arms. Not kneeling. Freedom of Speech. Freedom to protest. “Disrespecting” physical symbols. Hypocrisy. Something as simple as a silent protest of the way an entire group of people are treated has turned into a deep morass of ugliness. On one side, you have the President, tweeting insults to professional athletes, demanding that private business owners fire those athletes. You have people picking up the most recent meme off their favorite media site and blindly running with it. Kneeling became “disrespect for the flag.” Kneeling became “disrespect for the National Anthem.” Kneeling became “disrespect for the Office of President.” Kneeling became “disrespect for the military.”
Disrespect for the flag. Hmmm. Player chooses not to stand for the National Anthem as a silent protest for racial injustice. (If you are responding by claiming there is no such thing, you are willfully blind and ignorant. You may want to just close this window and unfollow my blog.) Those who experience no racial injustice (or worse, perpetrate it on others) cry out that these are millionaires who don’t suffer at all and are being selfish. Those that believe it’s not okay to protest in any way that makes them uncomfortable or forces them to think about someone besides themselves jump on any excuse to attack the protesters.
Selfish? Isn’t it the opposite of selfishness to stand up for others? Just because your chosen figurehead leaders are all about building, maintaining and keeping wealth for themselves (and the wealthiest around them) does not mean that everyone that has money really feels or acts that way. Players in the NFL have venue and ability to deliver their messages to a national audience–something that the families of black children gunned down by police officers, who were then later acquitted by “the system” of murder charges despite overwhelming evidence of guilt, something that black and latino/latina parents who worry that their children will be pulled over by a police officer targeting them because of their skin color–something these and many others being spoken for do not have the voice themselves that can be heard.
How does the flag enter into this discussion in the first place, except as a diversionary tactic shared by the President because he knows his diehard base will jump all over any such accusation as being “unpatriotic”? The flag is an elegant static symbol of our country. It’s more than that though. The flag is a symbol of what this country stands for, best encapsulated in the United States Constitution and its associated amendments–chief of which, in the Bill of Rights, is the right to free speech and assembly–the inherent right to peaceful protest.
What does our valiant military fight for? They do not fight to protect a colorful piece of cloth–they fight to protect the ideals symbolized by that cloth. As many members, current and former, of our military have stated over the past few days, they fight to defend our right to hold exactly these kinds of protests–they fight to defend our right to free speech. I have not yet read about a single NFL, NBA, MLB or other major league athlete that spoke out against the military or gave any indication whatsoever that his or her protest was against those protecting our country and everything it stands for. Yet, the President says that’s what the protesters are doing, so those who avidly follow him actively parrot that.
The National Anthem, The Star-Spangled Banner, is another symbol–in poetry and music–of our country and national heritage. How does kneeling during these bars of music disrespect that music? I won’t get into the history of the song itself, written by an angry white supremacist…
Disrespect for the Office of the President. It is as though many seem to think that the President gets a free pass on anything he says or tweets because, well, he’s the President. He tweets that North Korea “soon won’t exist.” He tweets that the Klan members, white nationalists and Nazis protesting in Charlottesville, Virginia are “good people.” He tweets about the removal of Confederate statues is destroying “our culture.”
Stop. Let’s think about that. People are so utterly concerned with disrespect for the Stars and Stripes, the official Flag of the United States of America, but celebrate the Flag of the Conferedate States of America–the symbol of a foreign government that attempted to overthrow the United States of America (in part to maintain the institution of black slavery, by the way), somehow does not disrespect the Flag of the United States.
These are NFL players under contract. They cannot protest at work. Stop again. How many of those speaking up against the NFL players (and now coaches and owners as well) cried out over the clerk in Kentucky fired because she refused to do her job and issue marriage licenses to gay couples? Oh wait–that’s different, they all say. That was based on her religious beliefs. So, she should have been able to protest by refusing to do her job and denying other residents of Kentucky marriage licenses, but NFL players should not be allowed to silently protest in a manner that denies no one their rights.
Back to the Office of the President for a moment. When you see anyone complaining that he is The President, and whether we like it or not, we need to respect him and his office, look back through their Facebook or Twitter feeds to the Obama years. I’m sure those same people showed due respect for President Obama and his Presidency. Yes, they’ll have lots of excuses–but it amounts to the same thing.
These are dark times in our world. We have disgusting growth in hate crimes and racial incidents since this President took office. We have far too many people that can still look you in the eye and with all seriousness claim, “We don’t have a racism problem here.” You mention Black Lives Matter and the knee-jerk reaction is, “Terrorists!” You talk about the well-documented issues in certain areas with police brutality against minority Americans, and their response is, “What about black-on-black crime?” You have a President that pardons a sheriff that was convicted of violating a court order (given repeatedly) to stop arresting people just because of the color of their skin–even though the criminal case had no actually even finalized yet. To some, that pardon was past due–he was rounding up all those illegal aliens (who, according to those same people, have no rights). Congress is battling to dismantle the Affordable Care Act (or as its know, Obamacare), not because they have a better plan to offer, but because it smells of the black man who was in the White House. The three attempts to get rid of the ACA? Each one was universally panned by every responsible patient-advocate group in the country. Each one would have kicked millions of Americans off health insurance–either directly or indirectly by making their premiums so high as to be unaffordable. Each one would have given states the ability to decide which services should be excluded from mandatory coverage–including mental health care and treatment, coverage for pre-existing conditions, coverage for various types of cancer treatment, coverage for various women’s services.
I have days where I cannot read my Facebook feed. Sometimes it’s because of pictures of Micah, reminders of my late son that are too unbearable to read or view. However, more often recently, its reading the blind anger of people that do not respect the rights, thoughts or beliefs of others. Sure, that goes, to a degree, on both sides of the political fence, but far more often it’s one side talking about banning forms of protest, complaining about protests being in the wrong venue or at the wrong time, perceived insults to our country because patriotism can only by on one side.
Maybe my real problem is that, imagined or real, I often feel isolated from those around me to begin with. This leads to not really caring if people unfriend me on Facebook or Twitter because they disagree with my posts. After all, far too many of my Facebook friends seem to be passers-by, just watching my posts and moving on. Not that I ever truly want to find out, but were I ever in crisis, I wonder how many of my friends would actually be there, and how many would just disappear all together.
It has been twenty months since Micah died. In one day–really, in one hour–I lost one of the most precious souls I will ever know. I lost my son and everything that he was. For a few weeks, a couple months, I experienced an incredible outpouring of support and emotion from those around me. After a few months, the attrition began. Then I stopped being a go-to person for youth hockey, and the attrition accelerated. In my darkest moments, I honestly wonder how many people would notice if I simply deactivated my Facebook page and disappeared into obscurity all together. Some would feel relief–not having to read posts like this one any longer. A few might genuinely wonder where I went. Most would go about their daily business…
Those that do for you.
To those that listen.
Of what others can offer.
The most useful in your sphere.
Offers only if your calendar is empty.
Those that may offer in the future.
When they call.
When they reach out for help.
When filling your calendar.
When their participation is not a benefit.
When friendship is inconvenient.
When they are gone.
Yes, I am feeling down and dark. No, I am not leaving.