The internet is abuzz with anger directed at Colin Kaepernick. His refusal to stand during the playing of the national anthem before a football game has unleashed fury from a tormented nation.
I too find the entire story to be troubling, but not for the reason most people are upset. What I find upsetting is that it reminds me people are like sheep. And if one of the sheep gets out of line, the others in the flock. turn into a pack of wolves. Why? Because someone dared to express a difference of opinion.
If you doubt the truth of this statement, simply think of all the horrible junk you’ve seen in your Facebook feed about Colin Kaepernick.
By the time you get to be an old man like me, deep patterns of thinking are worn into the brain. Long ago, opinions morphed into facts. A preference became a sacred cow. A habit is elevated to a mandatory method.
The danger of getting old is that we turn into sheep. And, this danger is not the exclusive property of the old; it impacts people of all age.
This video illustrates the point. It’s more than three minutes long but worth your time.
Did you notice the quote from the main player? “Everybody was doing it so I thought I was supposed to.”
There it is. This social learning disturbs me. But it explains, at least in part, the outrage over a football player not standing during the national anthem.
- He’s not playing by the rules.
- He’s not one of the sheep.
- He’s expressing a difference of opinion.
- He’s daring ot let the world know he thinks for himself.
As a result, the internet has turned into a pack of sanctimonious wolves as they circled Colin Kaepernick for the kill.
We forget that in the same arena there are thousands of other people sitting, or talking on their phone, or guzzling beer. Why the outcry against Colin? He stood out and it made the other sheep nervous.
Before you throw rotten tomatoes at me I want you to know I’m patriotic. I usually stand at the right times and sit at the right times. But I have no desire to be one of the mindless sheep who do what they do because it is what others do. I want to be driven by deep-seated convictions, not because the crowd expects me to think, act, or talk a certain way.
This is the crime of Colin Kaepernick. He has dared to think for himself and take a stand by not standing up. And in my eyes that might make him a hero.
The lesson in this incident is that we ought to think for ourselves. And we ought to do what we do because it is a deep-felt conviction.
Do you really think everyone who stands at the singing of the national anthem loves their country enough to die for it? Or that by standing they are somehow a true patriot and that cowardly anarchists remain seated?
The challenge for everyone, especially older people, is to not match step with the crowd because they are the crowd. We are to think, wrestle with facts, and burn some cerebral oil as we arrive at our own conclusions.
What makes our country great is not that we are marching mindlessly in lock step. America can only be great as we think for ourselves and do what is right, even if it turns the flock into a pack of wolves.
I’m grateful Colin Kaepernick has reminded me to not be a sheep mindlessly following the flock.