One Take on Taking a Knee

Howard Spierer

We are living in incredibly divisive times.

For whatever reason it is virtually impossible to engage in a dispassionate conversation about anything. As someone who aspires to lead and cherishes the opportunity to analyze effective leadership traits, the current environment is maddening.

It’s not just that so many people feel the need to be right; that’s nothing new. It’s the need to explicitly make others wrong and to ostracize and ridicule them for their beliefs. As a leader I want to know why others think what they think and do what they do.

It is equally important for me to be able to articulate why I believe what I believe and choose to do what I do. The operative word being “I.” In my mind when I hear “You need to,” I stop listening. There’s not much I need to do: breath, sleep, eat, drink, piss and shit; everything else is more or less optional.

I also turn a deaf ear when other’s purport to know someone else’s motivation. Cases in point:

  • Taking a knee during the national anthem is disrespectful to our country and military.
  • Not supporting gay marriage is homophobic.

In my mind it is OK to take a stand not to engage in either practice. It helps if you can articulate your others to do follow their beliefs. That is being judgmental. In my mind, human beings should be free to do what they please as long as it is not hurting anyone.

And by the way I do not ascribe to the notion of hate speech being hurtful. Yes, it may sting deeply, and it may be intended to cause pain. But in my mind it’s nothing more than a reflection of someone else’s mindset. I prefer to know what someone thinks of me so I can modify my words and actions accordingly, if I choose.

In fact, the frequent use of brutal honesty is indicative of a healthy men’s team.

So let me brutally honest; I find nothing disrespectful in silently taking a knee during the anthem. First, I am not certain who decided standing is the only acceptable way to show your allegiance to the flag. I know I missed that vote.

However, taking a knee has long been recognized as the only acceptable way to confirm your loyalty to a higher authority. Back in the day, standing when the King passed could cost you your head. And if it is such a sign of disrespect, why aren’t people getting off their bar stools and couches when the anthem is broadcast on TV?

Moreover, a flag has no feelings, and members of our armed forces have proven more than capable of standing up for themselves. For those who feel strongly about respecting our military put your money where your mouth is. There’s no shortage of veteran aid organizations that could use financial or volunteer assistance. For example:  http://www.vhcevent.org/)

It is easy to loudly make others wrong.

And just a little tougher to silently do the right thing.


Howard Spierer is a leader, guide and philosopher committed to learning and sharing the simple truths which are dictated by the definitions and burdens of manhood. His thoughts can be read on his blog ‘Man Up,’ and his column ‘Lessons in Leadership’ for the Legacy Magazine. 

6 thoughts on “One Take on Taking a Knee”

  1. Thanks Spierer, Besides accountability, I would hope MDI men would stand up and do something about which they are talking and concerned about. Veterans have the highest suicide rate of any segment of society so let’s see action and not just anger.

  2. Just please understand this. Just because you say it is so does not make it so.

    And just because your column is titled lessons in leadership does not mean you are giving them.

    How do you know that people don’t get off their bar stools. Are you in every bar?

    Your example that taking a knee is confirming authority and comparing it to this situation is off base.

    You are taking the two out of context. The protestors made it clear that kneeing is their form of protest, therefore comparing the two is off based.

    As far as you “missing the vote”. It’s not about a vote it’s about traditions.

    It is quite clear the direction of this organization and its lack of tolerance to differing opinions.

    This column is just another example.

    In closing, I find it quite interesting that you are ok with this form protest and find it necessary to speak out regarding those that do not find it acceptable and chose to protest the protestors.

    You see while they have a right to kneel, I have a right to protest what they are doing. As a matter of fact I put my “proverbial ” money where my mouth is a long time ago.

  3. As a Veteran I fought for the right if men to excerdize their constitutional right to ptotest. The flag and the Anthem are not an issue for me

  4. Howard, I agree with the premise of your article which I read as the difference between a zero sum game, where being right requires the other party to be wrong. I have learned that I can be right and disagree with someone and they can still be right, and I can understand how and why they see it that way. It does not require me to agree with them. Too many people have not come to that particular state of enlightenment. However, it is my opinion that your writing drifted off into opinions that can be polarizing, actually taking a side on the issue versus using the issue as an example of what you intended to say.

  5. I give Howard kudos for writing this column.
    It’s unfortunate that some respond to opinions by attacking the writer rather than the issue.
    Some folks simply can’t respond to a column like yours without making some judgments about the writer.
    I think what you were saying is that people should express opinions without attacking others.
    I liked it.

  6. Howard
    I wish I could kneel at any time except during the National Anthem. However I am unable to do so as I left my knee in Viet Nam.
    Any prepuce can kneel and who knows really why.
    This column almost tipped me over from MDI as I thought we were bigger than that. I have already defended their right to protest, but not their lack of decorum or respect.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *