This is America, circa 2017

Something that should never happen: a man is ashamed and full of regret because he decided to stand during the National Anthem, because it broke solidarity with the rest of his peers

Try to take a few steps back and look at the scenario as a whole: this is a man, a veteran, who served the country so that people could have the freedom to make individual choices – is full of regret, because he chose to stand for the National Anthem.

As an American, this is an absolutely heartbreaking story, and as I’m sure so many people say on a regular basis these days, just what the fuck is wrong with our country?

I’ll be honest: when Colin Kaepernick first refused to stand for the National Anthem last season, my knee-jerk reaction was disdain and vitriol for a player I didn’t care for as a player.  But through lots of deliberation and pondering opinions from all around me, I’ve kind of come around to a more neutral position that can see both sides of the argument.  Personally, I’ll never not stand for the flag and/or the National Anthem, but I can’t really say I’m going to criticize those who choose to peacefully protest the gesture, as long as they’re doing such because they legitimately believe in it and aren’t just being sheep, in light of current America.  After all, having the freedom to choose to stand or not is basically the quintessential point of American freedom.

Frankly, I don’t really care that there are NFL players are not standing for the National Anthem.  I’m thankful for the ones that choose to still do so, because as fucked up of a society we live in, I still choose to believe that our country is still capable of great things.  Ultimately, I think there are a countless number of things that are more important than the decision to stand or not during the National Anthem, and whenever shit like this becomes top news #1, I always feel like it’s a smokescreen for more nefarious and corrupt things happening in the shadows concurrently.

But it really does break my heart that we’re currently in an America where an American citizen feels regret for following his heart and his own choice to stand for the National Anthem.  I get camaraderie, brotherhood and sports team culture, but I resent the Pittsburgh Steelers for making him feel like an outcast because he acted on what he believed in, and I wish I could reach out to Alejandro Villanueva and pat him on the shoulder and tell him that he owes nobody any apologies and should feel zero regrets.

It’s incredible that we’ve gotten to this point, where it started with one man defying convention as commentary on abuse of power in law enforcement.  Now that man is unemployed through blatant collusion, but his defiance has mutated into something bigger, and is kind of turning into the de facto symbolism of the divide in our country.  And when a unit is divided, its weaker parties all around.

This is America in 2017, and we have to hit bottom before we start getting better, I don’t feel like we’re remotely even close to getting there.  This will probably, and frighteningly, get worse first.

God I hate talking about political-related commentary.

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