Let us kneel, and pray

To kneel or not to kneel, that is the question! Of all the problems that exist in our country and beyond our borders it is more than disheartening for our president, supposedly the most powerful man in the United States if not the world, to detract from serious issues by calling out players of the NFL for kneeling during the National Anthem.

Should we, as Americans, stand and show respect for our country, our men and women who serve and have served in our armed forces? Should we salute our flag when it goes by? Yes, I believe we should. But just because that is what I believe doesn’t mean I expect everyone else to agree with me. Our Constitution’s First Amendment gives each of us the right to freedom of expression.

We must each answer to our own God and our own beliefs! If an NFL player chooses to kneel rather than stand, for the purpose of peaceful demonstration against oppression, then it is their first amendment right to do so. Whether I agree with them doesn’t really matter. But for the president, notably the most powerful man in the free world, to call them names, and suggest they be fired for expressing their beliefs is in violation of everything this country stands for.

What we say is important. How we say what we say is equally important. The words we use say more about who we are and our character than anything else.

If we resort to name calling, verbal threats, slang, vulgarity and dangerous rhetoric when things don’t go our way what does that say about who we are? For the POTUS to call those who choose to kneel “sons of ——-“ and yell “fire ’em” what message does that send to our children and our allies across the globe?

I am reminded of a scripture that my father often used – in Matthew 15:11, we are told “It is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth; this defiles a person.” What we say speaks volumes about who we are, and I wish President Trump would take note of that and focus on the more important issues we are facing.

The members of the House and Senate are still at odds over the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). The promise of legislation to fix our infrastructure problems hasn’t even seen the light of day, and tax reform is somewhere out in the space beyond. We have people in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico who have lost loved ones and everything they own. And the Twitter battle with North Korea continues. With all of this, our president is now picking a fight with the NFL players, I want to tell him to just grow up!

The arts and sports programs have always been considered to be the great unifier among Americans. We might disagree on many things, but when it comes to these two areas, people pull together. That is what we have seen this past weekend with the NFL players and owners kneeling, standing with arms interlocked and hands on shoulders of fellow players – when our first amendment rights for freedom of expression are threatened we will respond. When a tradition of having the winning team of football, basketball, baseball or whatever the sport visit the White House is tossed out like a dirty rag because of a divergent way of thinking, it is sad. Yet, that is exactly what has happened.

President Trump has rescinded the invitation to one of the greatest basketball players to attend the Whitehouse ceremony honoring his team. To no one’s surprise, Steph Curry has said, “My views haven’t changed at all. I don’t know if anybody’s changed. But that’s where I stand right now,” Curry said on Friday during the Warriors’ media day at their practice facility. “I don’t want to go. That’s my nucleus of my belief.” What’s next? Will the President uninvite the winner of the Super Bowl because NFL members kneeled?

Will the constant back and forth between President Trump and Kim Jung Un result in a nuclear war? Will the bombastic rhetoric ever end? Is this the way a rational person acts, and speaks? If you are not concerned for our country, I must ask, what are you reading or watching? Our people are suffering from horrific storms, our reputation around the world has sunk to an all new low, and our allies are weary and confused.

President Trump said during his campaign that he was a Christian. I wonder if he ever read, 2 Timothy 1:7: “For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” When we spiral out of control someone must step up and take charge. President Trump’s priorities are not in line with his promises. Recently a previous staunch supporter of our President, Laura Ingraham has come out denouncing President Trump and his actions; and she is not alone.

The New York Times reported that the North Korean government is taking President Trump seriously. At the UN Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho of North Korea actually threatened to “shoot down American warplanes even if they were not in the country’s airspace. He went on to state that “President Trump’s comments suggesting he would eradicate North Korea and its leaders were “a declaration of war.” This is dangerous, much more dangerous than football players kneeling during the National Anthem. Let us pray.

Have a great day.

Vicki Westling is a Dunkirk resident. Send comments to editorial@observertoday.com