Land of the Free

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I have said before that my Facebook friends are a carefully curated lot. So what I’m seeing regarding the football protests during the national anthem is pretty reasoned, rational stuff.

But I know from some of them that what’s out there in the general population is pretty scary stuff.

It’s all over the news that while most of the teams found ways to protest injustice by standing together, the fans in too many stadiums booed the president on the jumbotron when he made a special 9/11 speech, much as Bush was booed during his term.

Or that a local pastor in Alabama made this statement before a high school football game Friday night:

If you don’t want to stand for the national anthem, you can line up over there by the fence and let our military personnel take a few shots at you since they’re taking shots for you

And the crowd cheered wildly.

I am proud to be an American and stand for the Pledge and the Anthem.

But I can stand while those who protest kneel. There is room for us both. I see them. I know their concerns are real. They are doing what they feel called to do, and for 240 years Americans have died to defend this very freedom.

We can’t decide who is worthy of the sacrifice. It doesn’t work that way. The blood was shed. The price was paid.

Sound familiar?

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Sunday at Church, where there are no coincidences, the theme of the Scripture readings was Mercy.

Exodus 32:7-14. 1 Timothy 1: 12-17. And Luke 15:1-32, the Prodigal Son.

Maybe that’s the problem, on both sides. We’re too much Self-righteous Older Brother, too linear, too worried about the scoreboard. We have to be more Forgiving Father and recognize that those who are taking themselves outside the circle are hurting, hungry, desperate to be seen and loved.

Outside the circle is never the solution. Too easy to say “Hey, they left!” Too easy to say “Hey, they pushed us out!”

The truth is somewhere in the middle, like it always is. And that’s where we meet to heal.

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