Let’s talk Kaep…

Why not? Everyone else is.

What’s your position? Who’s side are you on? Rawr argh rawr argh…

I can assure you that the culture and region where I come from, I am leaning toward the unpopular side of opinion. Leaning. I’m not all the way there, and I struggle with what I would have to say if someone put a knife to my finger and made me choose. More on that later…

This is complex, which is why it makes my eye twitch when I see so many people simply stating a position and leaving it right there on whichever Social Media platform they chose.

So, I will break it down: First, I want to start with a story.

This story comes from Stephen P. Cohen, President of The Negotiation Skills Company in Pride’s Crossing, and his article on focusing on Interests over Positions.

“The classic story to illustrate this describes two sisters fighting over the only orange in the family larder. Each sister must have the entire orange for herself, any less is impossible. A wise parent asks each of the girls (in private) why she wants the orange. One explains she wants to drink the juice; the other wants to use the rind to cook a pudding. What each sister wants is her position, why she wants it is her interest. In this case, the simple solution is to give the cook the rind after the juice has been squeezed for the thirsty sister — thus meeting the interests of both.”

This story can be applied to other conflict areas in need of resolute; how do we apply it to the Kaep sitch?

Hindsight is always 20/20, so here’s what I wish would have happened in that perfect visual field:

  1. Kaep kneals. It’s a tough watch. People are pissed. The anthem/flag are symbolic to multiple areas within the idea of patriotism.
  • Important Concept: Different Experiences with symbolic artifacts(s) (anthem/flag) = Different Perspectives on MEANING of artifacts(s) … think about this objectively for a moment.
  • Kaep’s Perspective was shaped from his Experience: He has seen statistics, facts, true, real-life data, scenarios, and situations where African-Americans, like himself, today are subjected to oppressive actions by the hegemonic population of white people. Specifically he speaks to the actions of the police and African-American male oppressions and injustices. Let me be very clear: This is a legitimate issue. You can get on google scholar and start searching hegemonic whiteness, data on the statistics, if you really want to go deep.

2. After Kaep knelt, there should have been dialogue.

  • He put up a position and others followed.
  • The NFL and fans also put up a position, it goes something like this: This isn’t right no matter what and no one should ever protest like that.

Since then, that position has turned both political and into forty thousand different positions, and IS ANYONE TALKING ABOUT THE FUCKING INTERESTS YET?

3. The NFL and Kaep should have had a conversation. Simple. Sit down with everyone, get a big circle table and gather around as equals. Talk about the interests:

  • Kaeps interests (as I understand them): This is not the land of the free. The flag represents freedom and justice for all. There is not justice for all. There is a large social issue pressing here and his interest is in using his platform to create POSITIVE change between the African-American community and the police.
  • NFL’s/fans interests (as I understand them): Offended… because of the MEANING of the flag with various perspectives.

But remember, Experiences = Perspective. Kaep and co.’s perspective doesn’t align with a large group of folks’ perspectives. It is HERE we need to create the dialogue, the understanding. The resolution.

  • Carrying on: They converse about their interests. The NFL and Kaep could have worked together to do a number of pro-active things to at least help remedy both interests.
  • For example: Funding special local events in the major cities where there are NFL teams: Have NFL players, police officers, and young children in primarily African American neighborhoods or at-risk communities get together for football camps and safety programs. In “exchange” for something like this, Kaep would be asked if he would discontinue protesting, or find an alternative protest method. Is that unreasonable? It was off the top of my head. If I can do that, imagine the possibilities they could come up with over a genuine conversation.

But nope. Here we are. Positions, positions, positions. Everyone on Facebook has their profile picture frame showing that “I Stand”. Welp, that’s your position. Great. What the hell does it mean to you, actually? I’d rather see a frame telling me your “why” than your “what”.

Do you see the issue here? It’s so simple to just put that position out there and shut the laptop down. WE, America, have to be more than that. We have to be better, smarter, and more informed. It’s sooooo easy to be divisive, so easy to tell ourselves that this time it’s OK to be divisive.

But it’s not so terribly hard to be compassionate and start conversations. When we negotiate, when we resolve conflict, we are better beings. We then foster better environments, we then THRIVE. We enjoy the vast perspectives that can create a better America because we’ve allowed diversity to work.

That’s the snapshot of what I wish I would have seen happen.

So. Would I kneel?

Nah, I’d probably do a handstand instead. I kid, I kid.

No, my experiences throughout life have quite simply led me to believe that the act of standing is related to my personal values. I’ve never felt at odds with the anthem/flag being symbolic to a completely different perspective like Kaep’s. I don’t have the capacity to answer the question: Would you kneel if you were in his position? I don’t know the answer to that question unless I was truly placed in the same situation. I may be able to answer it after a thorough dialogue with him. But that’s not practical. So, I empathize with the fact that he has this position and underlying interests, because of the experiences that have shaped is perspective, while I continue to stand.

These are pathos, emotion.

I’ve spoken with two types of military folks: Those who say they fought for our constitutional right to have freedom of speech, and peacefully protest… so yes, take the knee. And those who have a different Perspective: that the flag/anthem means too much symbolically, too much because of what they went through, and they are offended by the kneeling… please don’t take the knee.

Personally I have the capacity to grasp hold of all these general perspectives. I hear both of you, I see both of you, and I empathize with both of you. How can we come to terms?

My own view on Kaep’s perspective: This is where it’s tricky. I get why Kaep did it, I get why people are still doing it. And they legally can. Kaep uses the platform he has to denounce social injustices, he is empathizing with those who’ve become statistics in an area where lives of African Americans are at stake, and there are ways to prevent it. Also, I do NOT want my First Amendment rights jeopardized, and I should be allowed to execute those rights just like my right to bear arms, vote, and contact my elected officials about their doings in Congress. Peaceful protest is part of our 1st amendment rights, but I digress to logos… I’ll get to logic in a bit.

My own view on the NFL/Fan’s perspectives: I understand that it’s ugly too. I truly had a hard time watching the protests. Right away, it did make me feel angry and sad because that’s our country man! That’s our flag, and our song! Respect the shit out of it. It was very easy for me to immediately say, nah, there are better ways to do this protesting. But, that is the easy way to think about it without thinking about it. Also, every cop I know is a good cop in my book. Literally I cannot think of a time I met a cop that made me feel unsafe. My husband’s family has some amazing police officers and I respect the shit out of them for the things they have done, and the things they can’t unsee.

I’m not done yet.

I told you about the emotional (pathos) part, I refer to the next items as The Logic (logos).

The logical part is that the flag code, while not prosecutable law, states you should stand at attention. It also states we shouldn’t be wearing the flag as clothing, marketing it, or other commercial uses. Soooo… why is it ok for us to have those American Flag board shorts on 4th of July, but point fingers for a different “sin”? The other logical part is where we see conflict arise: The constitution allows us the freedom to peacefully protest. I care deeply about our freedoms, rights, and responsibilities as outlined in the constitution. This particular protest falls under that first amendment and needs to be considered within that capacity regardless of how ugly it is to certain groups.

Sidebar: Personally, I tend to try to defer to law, rules, etc over emotion (pathos) … I’m not always great at it as I have personality characteristics of passion and empathy, more than I care to admit.

So, I’m looking at all the different perspectives. I’m looking at the positions, the interests, and I’m asking this, because what’s done is done, and here we are dishing out positions like mashed potatoes:

When do we come together to try and figure this out?
Let’s work together, not against each other. Because this is America, and we owe it to ourselves to get it right. This can be sorted out. I believe that.

We have to get past positions. Someone needs to be bold enough to take the first steps to reconciliation. Divisiveness has put our country in dire times in the past(cough… civil war… cough cough). We are all smart enough to understand the concept of learning from the past.

Almost Done.

I wish I didn’t have to address this part, but here we are:

This protest was made even more complex when 45 called Kaep a son of a bitch. That politicized the whole thing and added more fuel to the dumpster fire. In fact, it has almost changed the entire narrative from the original reason of the protest. 45 made it his agenda, and he was successful at it.

Now, we are more divided than we were to begin with. We are more polarized and sitting atop our internet soapboxes spitting out our positions ten times louder than we were a year ago. What now? Keep this up? Divide more? Let the powers of evil overcome us?

I hope not. This is America, man. AMERICA. We can be better than this. We were for a time, and it seems to be getting lost… In several areas, which I have yet to discuss (Lookin’ at you Charlottesville!).

Go, find a place to share your interests. Write something long and thoughtful and share it, show why you care about what you say you care about. Throw in some facts, look for real news sources (see below). Then lets talk. Let’s heal. Lets come to understand we won’t always agree, but we can agree to disagree, and find common ground to rest our issues upon. Let’s negotiate and try to find places we can give a little& get a little…Let’s use diversity in a positive way.

The time is right for us to come together now more than ever.

In closing:

When I said “Leaning” at the beginning, it can be summarized as this:

  • Based on the constitution, we can peacefully protest, have freedom of speech, we can have guns, we can have freedom of the press. These are fundamental to our country and important for our American values.
  • Based on the flag code, which is guidelines, we should respect the flag. If we’re going to stand, then shouldn’t we ensure we are following all other flag protocol? (In other words, how much American Flag stuff do we have lying around that isn’t supposed to be there based on the code?) … Judging someone because they are sinning different, if you will.
  • Emotionally, and experientially (pathos, ethos) this is tough: Social Justice is important to me, I see the issues that need to be addressed, but we aren’t addressing them when that would fix so much of this divisiveness.
  • I will stand, but if I had a friend who knelt, I’d stand right next to them. I will be there for them in that capacity, because the injustices lie with those who feel the need to kneel, I am here to support those who should have equal opportunities, and freedom from oppressive actions. I can do that and be true to my personal values as well.
  • My main thoughts lie with conflict resolution and peaceful reconciliation. While we all have our different positions and interests, I think it’s very possible to get there and see both sides for what they are, explore how we can come together, and find logical solutions to our divisions.


Sidebar 2:

Here’s a couple charts about where to find your news. They may be a little different, but overall hopefully you get the idea here… Read thoroughly, then implement. Also, if a news source is questionable, visit it’s site, you should be able to find information about their terms, an address, or something to legitimize their existence. Occasionally fake news sites will have an actual disclaimer hidden in one of their sub categories saying they are making this up (so we don’t sue their asses).

Vanessa Otero’s Complex vs. Clickbait, Liberal vs. Conservative Media Chart
Journalism Quality and Partisanship 2017 Guide.