The very idea of athletics in America draws its inspiration from Ancient Greek life. The very spirit of the athlete is found in the halls of ancient gymnasiums.
Imagine witnessing an hour of grueling wrestling exercises meant to condition the body for competition. The athletes are spent and make their way to wash off. Afterwards as they are walking through the halls of the gymnasium, reaching the exit, there is a group gathered by the door that spills into the hallway. What are they doing??
In his book, The Ancient Olympics, Nigel Spivey records that they are conversing about logic, having debates and there was even one story that mentions Socrates passing by and being invited in to speak about the topic of the day – what is the nature of friendship.
Back then, pursuit of conditioning the body wasn’t separated from the pursuit of conditioning the mind. And today it still isn’t separated and it’s seen in our structuring of the student-athlete.
Within those Ancient Greek halls echo the spirit of ‘athlete’. We in America define ‘athlete’ as a person who competes in sport but the Greek root verb-tense meaning is “fighting, contesting, struggling for a prize“. That spirit of an athlete is seen whether it’s within their sport or debating a subject. Ancient-time theologians like Tertullian used the term “athletes for Christ” when remarking about the Christians who entered the coliseum to die; showing that the term athlete reveals the nature of fighting and struggling, in that case, for a belief.
Within sports, that belief is, “We will be champions! We’re gonna hoist that trophy!” But that phrase doesn’t hold a monopoly on what a real athlete and athletics is fundamentally. Athletics have been turned into only entertainment and not a means for also readying oneself for civic life.
So imagine Kaepernick walking out of the locker room, through the halls and when he reached the exit door, he hears the discussion of the day and he decides to kneel by the door to join the conversation. That action spooked our entire nation. Athletics & Politics have always been birthed as twins. What’s wrong with that???
“He is DISRESPECTING THE U.S. FLAG!!!!! AND disrespecting the soldiers who fought for us!!!! Can’t you get that through your thick skull!!!!”
My problem with people on the side saying that “We should honor the flag” is that it seems, to me at least, like they are placing their understanding of the flag above humanity and I can’t accept that. I also feel like there is a fundamental misunderstanding of what that flag represents.
Human existence precedes ALL nation building therefore the dignity of humanity is of more value than ANY nation and ANY flag. That point is the very initial premise that our founders made in The Declaration Of Independence to prove why they should not “respect the Flag of Britain”. Life, Pursuit of Happiness and FREEDOM is endowed on humanity from GOD not country. That premise, plus the list of unaddressed grievances held against the British Flag gave our founding fathers the moral right to “disrespect” it. Why? Because existence and the idea of human dignity that captures life, living and freedom wasn’t given by the crown, it was a right had from birth.
I worry when I hear, in essence, people saying “bow down to this” without recognizing that they are demanding a free person to give up his right especially when that right is being trespassed. That freedom is what our flag represents and NO that freedom was not given to us through war but from GOD. I recognize the building of our military for purposes of defending that right but the military aren’t the only ones fighting to defend that right. As individuals, we fight to keep that right mentally also. And when we tell an American where and when, in America, he can protest, we have systematically unraveled the very Declaration that birthed the constitution that framed our country.
America is an ideal, not a country. This ideal says that man (humanity) is FREE and if ever the governance that they have freely submitted to, ignores their grievances that have been proven to not be light and transient, that humanity has the moral right to either protest and/or separate from their legal contract. That’s exactly what The Declaration Of Independence argued! And that freedom has always been endowed equally to every person who exists.
The flag is used as the memorable bonding agent that holds together the ideal and the governing body that was created, through constitutions, to defend and pursue the ideal’s manifestation within our borders. So yes the flag represents our country, but both in its ideal and also where the government is presently in its pursuit of the ideal.
Athletes, by kneeling, are revealing not only the ideal but the pursuit, making them a reflection of the intellectual essence in the flag.
I’m cool with whatever consequences come to any athlete who acts on their belief. Kaepernick lost his job, cool…but don’t think that there won’t be consequences to those who felt the need to take it. It’s just how freedom works.
For me, the prevalent issue isn’t about protesting (_______) fill in the blank, it’s about the right to protest. The Human Dignity of a FREE MAN trumps any nation’s FLAG(specifically their governance); that ideal is what gave America its first breath. Well, that’s in my opinion, and apparently it’s held by our Founding Fathers also.
The American flag should only represent the equal dignity of ALL HUMANITY and the governance that pursues to that end.
If the governance is failing to keep up their end, then the ideal must let them know. We should never let any person reframe that meaning for any reason.
Aristotle, in attempting to describe Ancient Greek’s cultural term, Arete, proclaimed that any pursuit that renders a free man’s body, soul and mind useless towards practicing the highest expression of themselves and their skills(Arete) is a vulgar pursuit void of true nobility and manliness and others who follow such empty pursuits reflect the nature of animals, slaves and servants. I agree.
America, we don’t mind you falling or failing, but please keep your eyes on the prize(ideal) like a true athlete, and live for Arete!
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