Taking a Knee

When I say, “Taking a knee” what comes to mind?  What image do you see?  I’m blind.  I wasn’t born blind, my blindness is both a curse and a blessing.  A curse because from the time I was around 8 I knew something was different about me.  My parents confirmed that feeling when I was 12.  It was a blessing because as a result of slowly losing my vision I was able to collect a vast library of images, a kind of archive for me to refer to now.  So, when I hear the phrase, taking a knee my mind always inserts the image of George Washington kneeling in the snow next to his horse at Valley Forge. That print hung in my father’s den for as long as I can remember, to this day I imagine. My wife knew that I loved that picture so as a gift one year she presented me with a beautifully framed and matted print that hung in my home for many years.  That print now hangs in the home on the wall of my first-born child, given as a gift to my son in law who as a veteran of the armed services who had admired it.  I hope one day it is passed on to his son, my grandson. 

To me, taking a knee has and always will represent reverence.  It represents a man yearning to be free.  It represents a man willing to lead a nation.  It represented a man Humble enough to believe in something greater than himself, to ask God for strength in battle.  To ask of his Creator safety for his men and for victory over their oppressor, a King who felt they should be subjects rather than a free people. That simple picture of a uniformed man with his head bowed on one knee represents the beginning of our struggle to be here today.  This was a struggle that has left on the field of battle the broken, bloodied and dead of generations willing to pave the way to where we all are right here, right now.  This nation is not perfect.  We carry our imperfections, we learn from our darker moments the lessons many around the world are still subject to. We have come a long way, we still have a good piece of the road ahead before we can rest but right here, right now, we are doing pretty good.  Because of men like George Washington we are a country, because of men like Jefferson, Madison, Franklin and others we have a document that to this day is the basis of our Republic.  A document with the wisdom to stand the test of time because as those before us have lived they have Amended the imperfections to refine the document, the Constitution.  Are we perfect? No.  But do we live in a land where improving our current conflicts can be worked out? Yes.

So, I will ask you the question again, what comes to mind when you hear the phrase, “Taking a knee?”  Maybe if you could see what I see you would find the hope and the promise of a better way.  Maybe you will take the time to really learn about our history, about how we got here and see where it is possible for us to go.  We have had our differences over the years, fought a few wars over those differences but in the end, we lived, and we live in the greatest nation on earth.  We may sit on opposite sides of the fence when it comes to this kneeling thing, but we are all Americans, we all benefit from that one single word, American.  It should be enough to unite us, compel us to resolve the issues that divide us.  I refuse to harbor ill will or harsh feelings over this NFL vs. America argument.  Instead, when I hear the phrase “Taking a knee” I see the picture below and my heart swells with pride, it is filled with love and I believe in the words of the brilliant writer Charles Dickens who in 1841 penned these words in his novel, Barnaby Rudge.

“The thoughts of worldly men are forever regulated by a moral law of gravitation, which, like the physical one, holds them down to earth. The bright glory of day, and the silent wonders of a starlit night, appeal to their minds in vain. There are no signs in the sun, or in the moon, or in the stars, for their reading. They are like some wise men, who, learning to know each planet by its Latin name, have quite forgotten such small heavenly constellations as Charity, Forbearance, Universal Love, and Mercy, although they shine by night and day so brightly that the blind may see them; and who, looking upward at the spangled sky, see nothing there but the reflection of their own great wisdom and book-learning…

It is curious to imagine these people of the world, busy in thought, turning their eyes towards the countless spheres that shine above us, and making them reflect the only images their minds contain…So do the shadows of our own desires stand between us and our better angels, and thus their brightness is eclipsed.”

Please, read that quote more than once and then look at my vision of taking a knee.  We are all Americans, please don't let the darkness and shadows stand between us and our better Angels.  Of course, that is just my take