As a retired Army General, I am absolutely amazed at the amount of time we have dedicated lately to addressing the NFL and a handful of football players who are “taking a knee” during the playing of the National Anthem. We are a Nation at risk. We have active, external threats from Russia, North Korea, Iran and ISIS. We also have internal threats: from domestic terrorists, from a general lack of respect for law enforcement personnel, and from what seems to be an epidemic of divisive people trying to pit Americans against one another. With all of these problems affecting the Nation we love, why in the heck would we give so much of our attention to a few peaceful protesters?
I can only come to one conclusion: We have lost our focus as a Nation.
So how do we begin to regain that focus?
I would recommend that we forget about “taking a knee” and instead concentrate on “taking both knees.” What I mean by that is I think it’s high time that we, collectively, as a nation, turn to our God in prayer.
I happen to be Christian, and I spend some time every morning reading the Bible. In 2 Chronicles 7:14 God tells us, “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves, pray and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways I will hear them from heaven and I will heal their land.”
Isn’t that what most of these protesters are after? Don’t they want to “heal the land?” The Bible gives us an answer as to how we can go about that. So let’s do it. Let’s pray. Because frankly, we need all the help we can get.
Denzel Washington, in one of his public presentations, recommended that we all put our bedroom slippers deep under our bed at night, so that first thing in the morning we have to get down on our knees to retrieve our slippers—and since we are down there anyway, let’s pray. I like that advice. For those who don’t pray regularly, it’s an easy way to start.
In all of the most difficult times in my life I have dropped to my knees and turned to my God in prayer. When commanding Soldiers in combat, I found myself praying continuously. When my family or friends are facing difficult times, I drop to my knees and pray for them.
And guess what? It works. God answers all prayers, and he’s certainly answered mine. Sometimes his answer is, “No!” Sometimes his answer is, “Not right now.” I won’t say it’s always easy to understand the choices God makes. But my prayers have all been answered one way or another, and the more of us He hears from, the more effective our collective prayers will be.
If you aren’t exactly sure how to pray, try this: First, thank God for all He has done for you, individually. If you are a professional athlete, thank God for all the God-given talents you are currently using to make a living playing sports. Thank God that you live in a country where you are free to worship as you like, and can enjoy all sorts of other profound freedoms on a daily basis. Then, commit to God to use your talents and privileges to help those less fortunate. And finally, ask God to heal and protect our country. Pray to God to step in and address whatever it is you might be otherwise complaining about on Facebook, or protesting on the football field. Believe me, prayer is a whole lot more effective than dropping to one knee and making people upset for what just may be the wrong reasons. Because truly, all this “taking a knee” business is doing now is taking everybody’s eyes off the ball.
After all, no football team ever won a game without focus. And as a nation, we aren’t going to win the battles of any of us is fighting for unless we regain some focus, too.
The last thing I have to say about this is the next time you hear our National Anthem, I would ask you to remember our obligation as American citizens to respect our laws. After all, the law on this matter of what we’re supposed to do when the National Anthem is played is clear. It’s black and white. It’s addressed in the U.S. Code. (For those of you who are unaware—as far too many Americans seem to be these days—the U.S. Code is the official compilation and codification of the general and permanent federal statutes of the United States.) In Title 36 of the U.S. Code, paragraph 301, it reads: “During a rendition of the National Anthem… all other persons present should face the flag and stand at attention with their right hand over their heart.”
Focus, people. Focus on what matters. And if you need help figuring out how to do that, I suggest you take both knees—and ask for it.