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  • Reverend James Squire

Who Boos Unity?

Updated: Feb 9, 2021

I watched the first professional football game of the season. Before it was played there was a marvelous video highlighting Black Lives Matter which was accompanied by what is referred to as the Black National Anthem. It is really a hymn, “Lift Every Voice and Sing”. We had the National Anthem sung. Everything was going well as the Super Bowl Championship Team, The Kansas City Chiefs, and the Texans gathered arm and arm across the entire length of the field as a statement of unity. It was then that the booing started.

There was a real danger of everything before the booing being forgotten until Tony Dungy, former coach of the Indianapolis Colts, spoke as one of the commentators. He is a person with gravitas whose biography describes a moral force in the National Football League. He said simply, “We can’t get bogged down on who is there and who isn’t and all of that. Let’s keep the bigger picture in mind. The bigger picture was not about the booing. The bigger picture was about racial justice and Black Lives Matter. The bigger picture, without question, was about patriotism and love of country. The booing that occurred was about the UNITY that was expressed by the actions of the two teams. Yes, people were booing unity.

That bigger picture is a commentary on where our nation is today. We have just finished our 9/11 remembrance a few days ago. People were united in support of the families who lost loved ones on that terrible day. You can’t imagine someone booing at one of the public services that were held. I believe that is true because we had a common enemy who did something terrible to our people and our place on our soil.

So why boo the gesture of two teams linked arm and arm on a playing field graphically depicting a call for unity of all things? There is an old saying that, “We have met the enemy and it is us!”

We need to be reminded that the most Americans killed in action was during the Civil War (625,000), not a war with a common enemy outside of our nation. It tore our nation apart. We were able to move forward because of leaders such as Abraham Lincoln whose words appealed to our better angels. He and others that followed changed the narrative to a new way of seeing things, a new idea to be underscored as equality for all. One of my guiding truths is that “ideas precede action”. On 9/11 we have a unified view on what it means to be a patriot. That idea of love of nation comes first.

I think that we have lost the power of that idea of God, Family, Country, except if you were or are part of our military for that idea of freedom and liberty have exacted the ultimate price from many. We now have patriotism as well spread throughout our essential workers fighting another common enemy, the virus, to protect us all.

We have the ideas that lead to patriotic action, The Pledge of Allegiance, The National Anthem, and Lift Every Voice, and Sing. They are ideas that can be taken for granted. We need to say and sing them but also have them become more a part of us. Don’t wait until an athletic contest to read their words. I believe it would be harder to boo a call to national unity if those patriotic ideas were more a part of our hearts and souls.

When I was in my final years of teaching, I shared a homeroom with a wonderful colleague. We said the Pledge of Allegiance at the end of each homeroom before the students left for class. There were times when both of us couldn’t be in homeroom, and the students would always rise and say the pledge on their own. It was part of them. I would suggest that if they missed it, they would have felt that something was missing. How do I know this? They were quick to tell me the next morning after we weren't there that they didn’t forget to say the pledge. They always remembered it.

We need to learn a lesson from them.

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