At the time, my reasons for not standing were different than the initial reasons why football players knelt during the national anthem, but these silent protests have become the subject of national attention — this time, because Trump has launched a days-long tirade at players who have joined the movement.
A year ago, it was Colin Kaepernick’s act of kneeling to protest police treatment of African Americans that captured the most attention, in 2017, it appears to be Trump’s unconventional response to the act.
It’s all about freedom: of speech and of thought.
It was in the early 1990s. I’m not a huge fan of baseball, but somebody had given me a couple of tickets to a Padres game and I thought it would be something my then thirteen-year-old son would enjoy.
After all this time, I can’t remember what team we were playing, but since my son was an avid collector of baseball cards and knew everyone’s stats by heart, it was a big deal to him.
I’m an intermittent rebel. Most of the time I comply with socially accepted behavior norms but sometimes I don’t, and there is really no rhyme or reason why I’ll do something one minute and turn into Pussy Riot the next.
Mercurial is a good word to describe me.
Or batshit crazy. Your choice. Whatever.
On this particular day, I was feeling especially contemplative and introspective. Or pissy, or just contrary, or all of the above…
When it was time for the national anthem and everyone was asked to stand, I stayed seated. My newly teenaged-don’t-make-waves-and-certainly-for-heaven’s-sake-don’t-call-attention-to-the-fact-that-he’s-out-in-public-with-his MOM son stood when everyone else did and then sat back down.
He was confused.
He asked me why I was sitting. I replied that I didn’t like to be told what to do, that I was neither a sheep nor a lemming, that my love or respect for our country had nothing to do with standing simply because everyone seemed to expect it, and putting my hand over my heart was rather offensive to me and reminded me of similar blind devotion to Hitler.
As far back as elementary school, I decided not to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance because I felt it personally offensive in ways I couldn’t comprehend nor verbalize at the time, but I had a strong feeling that it wasn’t something I wanted to do. Of course I got in trouble, sent to the principal’s office and all that; parents called, and my lawyer dad told the administration that it was my RIGHT and my decision whether I chose to participate in that activity and he supported me. I appreciate that he advocated for my free will even at that age.
The almost but not yet completely drunk people sitting behind us started yelling at me to stand up. That created enough ruckus so that others started paying attention to the situation. The crowd turned ugly. Everyone was yelling at us to stand and accusing me of being a bad mother. Someone threw popcorn.
I told my son that this was a perfect example of what I was explaining to him, that if he felt like he needed to go along with the peer pressure crowd mentality — that was his individual decision, but he should ask himself if he was standing because he wanted to honor his country or because he was being bullied into it?
What was his motivation? What was his intention?
He told me I was a troublemaker and I embarrassed him.
With love, I told him I was sorry that I made him feel badly, but that I really wanted him to grow up to be someone that thought for himself and made his own life decisions based on his inner voice of that was right and wrong for HIM.
Did my NOT standing make me LESS of an patriotic American? IT DID NOT. I am not a fan of public displays of rote allegiance.
As soon as as the game started, everyone forgot about it and that’s how it ended, but for a brief moment, I thought things were going to escalate into some sort of overt hostility.
Intermittent or not, I am a proud social protester: when I fought to add wolves to the Endangered Species List, fought against abhorrent puppy mills, and when I stood proudly with my sisters and brothers to protest in support of women’s rights last January.
I’m proud that I stand up (or sit down) for what I believe in.
Not standing for the national anthem is a legal form of peaceful protest, which is a First Amendment right.
There is a method to my seeming madness…it’s a foundation of my belief system of mindful parenting
Mindful parenting means taking responsibility for as well as being present with our own feelings and actions to model this thoughtful insightfulness to our children. This creates a level of self-discovery and self-awareness and self-control over our moment-to-moment reactions. Instead of a negative, punitive connotation, discipline does not only refer to the guiding or teaching of a child, but begins with self and builds individuation.
Although this was my parenting philosophy that I pretty much put into practice instinctually with my son 36 years ago, you can now read about one progressive and loving approach here: Resources for Infant Educarers® (RIE®) https://www.rie.org/
To put it simply, I wanted my son to think for himself, to question authority, to use his brains and his heart to navigate through life, and I’m glad to see that he and DIL are raising my grandson with that same sort of loving mindfulness.
This is how President Obama reacted (via Huffington Post):
Almost exactly a year ago, Obama offered a nuanced insight into Kaepernick’s protests.
“Well, as I’ve said before, I believe that us honoring our flag and our anthem is part of what binds us together as a nation,” Obama said during a CNN town hall in September 2016. “But I also always try to remind folks that part of what makes this country special is that we respect people’s rights to have a different opinion. We fight sometimes so that people can do things that we disagree with … As long as they’re doing it within the law, then we can voice our opinion objecting to it, but it’s also their right.”
″I think that it’s also important for us to recognize that sometimes out of these controversies, we start getting into a conversation, and I want everybody to listen to each other,” Obama continued. “I want Mr. Kaepernick and others who are on a knee, I want them to listen to the pain that that may cause somebody who, for example, had a spouse or a child who was killed in combat, and why it hurts them to see somebody not standing. But I also want people to think about the pain that he may be expressing about somebody who’s lost a loved one that they think was unfairly shot.”