Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’re well aware that the President of the United States and the National Football League are engaged in a war of words and demonstrations. This civil war of sorts has its roots in the non-violent protest of NFL free-agent Quarterback, Colin Kaepernick. Last year Kaepernick began protesting the prevalent injustice within our nation’s criminal justice system; his methodology, kneeling. Kaepernick committed himself to kneeling during the playing of the National Anthem at football games to call attention to the biased treatment that African-Americans endured at the hands of police, judges, prosecutors and jurors. His protest, seen across the country, angered a large swath of Americans and (in the eyes of many) resulted in him being blackballed from the NFL. In addition to losing his job, Kaepernick endured ridicule, hate and the threat of violence. While a handful of other NFL players joined Kaepernick in his protest, by-in-large he was the NFL’s lone torch bearer in his fight to bring attention to and fight against injustice.
To kneel is to put oneself in a position where one or both knees are on the ground. It places the kneeler in a position of submission and defenselessness. It is a lowly, humble position; a position of reverence. By kneeling Kaepernick risked his livelihood and his name. He made himself defenseless to the onslaught of public opinion and humbled himself in the name of justice. Justice is worth kneeling to Colin Kaepernick. For him, justice is worth standing alone for. It’s worth taking a lowly position and opening himself up to attack.
As I watch the progression of the Kaepernick’s protest and ensuing public service, I ask myself; what am I willing to kneel for? I kneel for empowerment; to help others find their own strength, courage and capacity to achieve their goals. I pursue that in pro bono work, my work with non-profits, my paid legal work and my work with GladiatHers.com and Beyond the Game LLC. Empowering others is what keeps me up at night. It is what I will do for free, even when others don’t want to or don’t believe in my efforts.
But while it’s great that Kaepernick and I have found what we’re willing to kneel for, the real question is: What are you willing to kneel for? What is it that keeps you up at night, that you are willing to fight endlessly for? Is there anything in your dreams (in your sights) that you are willing to risk life as you know it for? Is there anything that you are willing to stand alone for; to make yourself vulnerable for? If there isn’t, I strongly urge you to find that thing worth kneeling for. Discover that thing that you’re willing to work endlessly towards. Unlock the thing that you are willing to chase even if no one else goes with you; even if people ridicule you for it. I promise it’s worth it.
Finding the thing that is worth kneeling for gives you a special lease on life. It motivates you to fight despite the odds and naysayers. It frees you from the confines of operating within the boundaries that others set for you. It allows you to impact the world in your own special, unique way. That thing worth kneeling for will give you a bold, confidence to pursue your life to the fullest; it will elevate you even while you’re kneeling.
Don’t believe me? Take a look at what’s happened in the year since Kaepernick began his protest. He has the President of the United States waging a war against the NFL. There are more players than ever, coaches, owners, cheerleaders, anthem singers, veterans, politicians and countless other people throughout the country kneeling. Debates rage on TVs, the internet, cellphones and at dinner tables about the First Amendment, the criminal justice system, race and the definition of justice. Kaepernick has become a symbol. For some he symbolizes the fight for justice and the power of one. For others, he is the definition of un-American. One thing is for certain, in kneeling low, he has elevated himself to a place that he would likely not occupy had he stood on his two feet and just threw the football. He has harnessed the power of kneeling.
Do you want the power to change conversations, make a difference and walk in your unique light? Then find that thing that’s worth kneeling for and go after it relentlessly. Chase it down when no one and everyone is watching. Go after it even when no one supports you and watch yourself be taken to new heights in the midst of your kneeling.