It seems to me that when individuals act in an unusual or peculiar way that is contrary to established custom or practice, figuring out whether this curious deviation may be attributed to ignorance (the lack of knowledge about the subject), stupidity (the inability to understand the subject), or something else can provide a puzzlement.
You see, once again the subject of genuflecting has surfaced — this time with a dynamic force not seen the last time around. Under tremendous social and financial pressure, individuals and entire organizations have been forced to recant, to disavow, to renounce, their previous positions.
Not quite sure what “genuflecting” means? Well, it’s a custom dating back over 2,000 years in which an individual or an entire group of people bend the knee or touch one knee to the floor or ground in reverence or worship to express a respectful attitude. According to Wikipedia, “Alexander the Great introduced into his court-etiquette some form of genuflection already in use in Persia … . In the Byzantine Empire even senators were required to genuflect to the emperor. In medieval Europe, one demonstrated respect for a king or noble by going down on the left knee, often remaining there until told to rise.” Genuflecting is still part of official rituals in certain counties that retain titles and nobility.
The custom of genuflecting as a sign of respect and service continues in different ways in modern times. When the folded flag of a fallen veteran is offered to the family, the presenting officer will go down on his left knee if the recipient is seated. Genuflecting is traditionally often performed in western cultures by a man making a proposal of marriage by going down on his lift knee as a sign of devotion to and love for the woman. But there’s more to this custom in that genuflecting is part of worship practices in a number of Christian churches. Commonly exercised when entering or leaving the sanctuary it denotes a reverence, a devotion, before God. Regardless of the setting, the act of going down on one knee has carried with it the symbolism of respect and devotion — until recently.
Readers may recall how a couple of years ago a successful, wealthy, professional football player decided to protest against this country by refusing to stand during the playing of our National Anthem prior to a football game. Instead he “took a knee,” that is genuflected. In retrospect, his doing so was likely not because he was ignorant of the centuries of meaning associated with genuflecting nor was he so stupid as to not being able to understand its symbolism.
You see, although to a casual observer his action might have been mistaken as a traditional symbol of respect and devotion, he had turned it into “something else” — the exact opposite. He publicly explained that by not standing for our National Anthem as is our custom, he was demonstrating his disrespect, disgust, and hostility for this country and the anthem it represents. Nope, he likely chose this as a counter-symbol for those, like him, who believe our country is steeped in depraved conduct and unworthy of esteem, honor, or loyalty — a complete reversal of the original, historic symbolism of genuflecting. Kinda like how a person who was “gay” was “light-hearted, joyous, happy” but now the term “gay” has another meaning with the traditional one being discarded into the trash heap of history.
Well, if the professional football league resumes play this fall, the issue of players, coaches and other folks on the playing field “taking a knee” during our National Anthem — thus demonstrating their disrespect for the country it represents — will undoubtedly arise. You see, lotsa folks consider “taking a knee” during the National Anthem shows contempt for: love of country; patriotism; admiration of the military, and similar bedrock beliefs important to millions in this country.
Interesting enough, two of the symbols for these folks are our National Anthem and our flag — both of which are so infuriating to the knee benders and their disciples. Well, in the spirit of “de-escalating” the situation — which is currently considered of prime importance in any possible conflict — perhaps the best solution would be to desist from playing the National Anthem at all sporting events thus depriving both sides of a cause for demonstrating. And while we’re at it, why not remove all national flags from the sports area and dispense with military aircraft “flyovers” as well. Oh, sure, these measures might cause some consternation but they might help banish protests from sports thus allowing sports to be sports — but don’t hold your breath.
At least that’s how it seems to me.
Bill Taylor, a regular contributing columnist and local area resident, may be contacted at [email protected]