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On Football and Freedom

You know what I spent my weekend doing? Catching up on the Mindy Project while my husband took my older kids to a college football game with his family. And then I binge read a library book (A Man Called Ove-two thumbs up) that was due to expire off my kindle at 1:30 yesterday afternoon.

And I didn’t watch any football. Because. I hate football. I think it is pretty boring and I’m admitting it publicly, because after years of trying to understand it and enjoy it, I realized two things: 1. I like the people I watch football WITH more than the game and 2. Football in the heat sauna that is Texas is torture.

SO…while I was merrily binging my library book and then watching the new Beauty and the Beast on Netflix with my kids, Facebook was erupting.

I could talk forever about race relations in this country. But I won’t, at least not right now. Maybe later I’ll rehash my increasing understanding that I am privileged. Maybe I’ll talk about how I was scared when my sister told me her black husband was going on a run around our neighborhood at 5am, scared that some paranoid white girl would post about him on a neighborhood page…that he was suspicious. Maybe I’ll tell you that the scene in Dear White People, the one with the black face party, was something that my black friend actually experienced at her expensive private hoity toity college. But anyway, we can talk about it later. In fact we should talk about it later. But not now.

But I am gonna say something radical.

Human beings are more important than flags and songs. 

And I love our flag and I love our song.

But human beings are better than a song and flag. They just are.

What we all seem to be missing in this debate, is that the flag and the song stand for something: freedom. And if we don’t have the right to peaceably protest it, then we don’t have freedom anymore. When we silence people, we run the risk of being silenced ourselves. That’s how it works. Plain and simple.

With freedom comes offense. Because freedom says,

you are allowed to have an opinion even if it’s not mine,

and your feelings are legitimate even if I don’t understand,

and you can say what you want (hopefully with respect),

and we won’t throw you off a building for disagreeing with us or being a certain way,

you can worship (or not) as you please, without repercussions,

and we won’t put you in a camp because of your genetic code,

and we won’t make you flee your country on a boat in the ocean

and you are safe here,

and the flag and the song, they mean that, even if they get protested.

It’s ok if they get protested. We’re all gonna make it. Because people are more important.

That’s freedom.  And we are so fortunate here. We get to disagree. WE GET TO DISAGREE. And we get to protest.

and we get to talk freely. And dialogue. We get we get we get we get we get…

And hopefully…

Oh hopefully, our disagreements will be respectful and kind and generous. Because in a perfect world, that’s what freedom facilitates. And hopefully, we’ll put down our phones and talk face to face. That’s how I learned. I didn’t learn on Facebook. I learned face to face in my house over pizza. I learned face to face, legs curled under us on a couch in a coffee shop in Cedar Falls, Iowa. I learned face to face on my back porch, while brown and white kids ran around the yard and grownups talked.  I learned at bookclub with other girls who looked like me but thought different things.

Being mad about the NFL is a first world problem. And that’s that. Perhaps it is as first world as waiting for the Pumpkin Spice Latte to come out.  And the beauty is whether you agree or disagree or if you chose to binge Netflix because you hate football…we are FREE to be free here.

I want to tell you something else, Jesus isn’t concerned with our song or our flag. Jesus is concerned with his children and His Glory.

12 thoughts on “On Football and Freedom

  1. Agree with your view, Anna. Unfortunately, many has lost sight of the original protest and have made this an issue of patriotism. The irony is that a true patriot embraces the freedoms you speak of for all, not just themselves. It feels like we are reliving the 60’s with the “America…love it or leave it” simplistic response to deep issues. Love you and your voice.

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  2. Agree with your blog. I did not see the uproar as a racial or flag issue, but perhaps someone touched an idol. Keep writing and expressing and loving.

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    1. Oh Ann. “Perhaps someone touched an idol.” Amen. That’s a whole other piece. And really don’t our idols do that? They make us so angry when they are threatened. Good word! Miss your insights on my Wednesdays hanging out in the church office!

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