Colin Kaepernick and other NFL players have given us a new Shakespearean conundrum to think about. To kneel or not to kneel. Is it right to do anything but stand in front of the flag during the National Anthem? Even if it a respectful sign of protest against things that might be challenging the fabric of the nation?
Everyone is facing this dilemma in football stadiums, in high schools, and really everywhere the national anthem could be being played. While we are on the topic of national anthems, let me share another experience of mine. It involves another national anthem, a movie theatre, and some popcorn.
I was in India, excited to visit the brand movie theatre in the mall. I ordered my fresh watermelon juice at the stall outside. I was told it would be delivered to me inside the theater. Talk about service! I was ecstatic. I went in and found our seats. They were large, cushioned and very conducive to relaxation. I settled in awaiting the big movie of the year. I was laying back and wondering if I should eat some popcorn now or later when suddenly the auditorium boomed with the National Anthem.
I love the Indian National anthem. I grew up with it. It brings with it nostalgia and good memories. It is poetic, written by Rabindranath Tagore a philosopher and writer I admire a lot. I love India, am proud of my origin and try to represent my culture in the things I associate with.
But let me confess, at that weak moment in the movie theatre I just wanted to eat my popcorn.
As the anthem played on, I got up and stood nevertheless. It was more out of habit and some peer pressure. Nationalism had found its way to the movie theatre and my popcorn had to wait.
Obviously, the etiquette of what to do during the national anthem is a hot topic all over the world because months later, I find myself agonizing with my newly adopted country on the same.
Following the kneeling incidents. I followed tweets, liked, disliked Facebook posts, bookmarked news and opinions and had animated discussions with my husband. And as the arguments played back and forth, we suddenly realized something.
All these are just obfuscations of the real events. It is not whether you stood or didn’t stand in the movie theatre. if someone kneeled or didn’t kneel on the football stadium. We care more about pushing each other in the opposite court. Where we can accuse each other of being traitors or nationalists, left or right, right or wrong. We hold on to our opposite sides and lie divided and therefore defeated. Remember the old strategy of ‘Divide and Rule’? Behold, it is being used again. Be it a bombastic president or the Russian bots, guess who loses in this argument?
Because as we debate endlessly, healthcare coverage remains a problem, drama threatens the security of the world, homelessness is on the rise, quality education remains a challenge and yes, racism continues. Maybe we should all just move and start taking actual steps to solve these problems first?
Or just eat some popcorn.