by: Dr. Allen Domelle
Unless you have had your head in the sand, you have no doubt heard about the San Francisco 49ers quarterback, Colin Kaepernick’s choice to sit during the national anthem. His explanation for this act is strange considering his past. He said about his decision, “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.”
This act and explanation have set off a firestorm across social networking and the news media. Many of his fans have burned his jersey, and he has only begun to see the impact this decision will bring on his life. The choice to brand himself as an American betrayer, and that is what he is, will follow him for many years to come.
For Kaepernick to say that the American flag has so oppressed black people, apparently he is referring to all the white people who gave him a chance in life. I guess he has forgotten about his white adoptive parents who raised him and made sure he had an opportunity to play football. Apparently, he forgot about the white people who drafted signed him to a $114 million dollar contract for his mediocre play. It is very apparent that he forgot about the white people who bought tickets to see him play and purchased jersey’s that benefit his finances.
Mr. Kaepernick must have forgotten about all those people who would love to have a chance to stand for the national anthem, but can’t because they gave their legs for his freedom to sit. I think of men like Tim Lee who sacrificially served our country and gave his legs in Vietnam for Kaepernick to have the freedom to disrespect the flag and our national anthem. I think of Pat Tillman who had more respect for his country than a paycheck from the NFL. Maybe Mr. Kaepernick ought to go to the grave of Pat Tillman and tell him how much America has oppressed him. If Mr. Kaepernick thinks America has oppressed him, then he ought to go to every mom and dad who lost their child in combat and tell them how oppressive America has been. If Mr. Kaepernick truly believes the American flag is a symbol of oppression, maybe he should talk to Brian Mast, the Republican candidate for Senate, who lost his legs defending the freedom of this great land.
Mr. Kaepernick’s sincerity is suspect. His skills as a quarterback are questionable, and this stunt may have saved him a few weeks of play instead of being cut. However, if Mr. Kaepernick is sincere about helping those who are “oppressed,” then I am sure he will quickly sell his fancy home and move to the ghetto’s and help those who are “oppressed.” Maybe out of concern for the “oppressed,” he will invite them to come live with him in his million dollar home. I am also sure he will give up most of his $114 million dollars to help the “oppressed” get out of their oppressive situation. Of course, he won’t do this because this is a branding political stunt that I believe he will regret for many years to come.
Proverbs 22:1 says, “A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favour rather than silver and gold.” The “good name” in the verse above is a branding. This verse is talking about for what you are going to be known. God says that having a “good name” or a good brand is a better choice than “great riches.” In other words, don’t let the desire for money motivate you to be branded with a bad name. The Kaepernick situation is a good teaching moment that should remind us of three things.
1. There are consequences to every action.
What you do today will often brand you for life. Galatians 6:7 says, “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” You can pick your actions like Mr. Kaepernick did, but you can’t choose your consequences. Sadly, you are always remembered for your last act. You will be known tomorrow by what you do today. You must be careful because you may never have a chance to rebrand yourself. This is why you must be careful with every action, because if today’s actions are your last chance to brand yourself, you must ask yourself if you are willing to live with their consequences. You may say that you made a youthful mistake, but often those youthful mistakes are the branding you carry for the rest of your life.
2. Be careful about branding yourself with emotional decisions.
Throughout the Scriptures and history, many men branded themselves in an emotional moment. Cain was branded as a murderer because of an emotional decision based on jealousy. Esau was branded as a man who gave up his birthright because his physical emotions got the best of him. Saul branded his life with jealousy and spite because of an emotional decision to destroy David. Judas was branded a traitor because of his emotional decision to turn on Jesus Christ for thirty pieces of silver. Benedict Arnold will forever be branded a traitor because of his emotional decision to turn on the American troops because of his disagreement with George Washington. Emotional decisions have branded many people; brands they were never able to outlive.
Proverbs 3:1 says, “My son, forget not my law; but let thine heart keep my commandments:” The best way to keep from allowing an emotional decision to brand you is to be guarded with your decisions. God teaches that your heart should be kept in check with His commandments. Most bad decisions can always be traced back to emotions. You may feel emotional about a situation, but you better be careful about involving yourself in something that will brand you. Once you’ve branded yourself, you will have a difficult time changing what you burnt into the minds of those you influenced with your actions. Instead of letting emotional decisions dictate your actions, allow principles to dictate what you do.
3. Don’t brand yourself differently from who you really are.
The psalmist says in Psalm16:6, “The lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places; yea, I have a goodly heritage.” Don’t destroy your heritage because of a foolish desire to brand yourself differently from whom God made you to be. Matthew 16:26 says, “For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” Many people have changed their brand but lost the soul of who they were. God teaches that it is not worth it to “gain the whole world, and lose” your own soul.
Mr. Kaepernick may have successfully rebranded himself, but I’m afraid he lost the soul of who he was. He came into the league with a reputation of being a humble guy who worked hard, but will now always be branded as the guy who disrespected the thousands of people who gave their life and limbs for his freedom to sit during our national anthem. He was known as a guy who had white parents who adopted him and gave him a chance to make something with his life, but he will be branded as the guy who dishonored those parents with his foolish decision to sit for the “oppressed.”
My friend, you have one chance in life to brand yourself. Very few times do people get a chance to rebrand who they are. Be careful about branding yourself with a reputation that you will regret years down the road.