Mike Del Ninno
My Dad’s Life Mattered, Too
I guess it’s time to weigh in on the “lives matter” National Anthem fiasco. I only call it a fiasco because Colin Kaepernick’s seemingly well intentioned zany action totally missed the mark on improving social injustice in the world.
As with most individuals, I view life through the prism of my early childhood and life experiences. My love of athletics and patriotism was instilled by my father, a strong but quiet leader, WWII veteran, and someone who graciously gave up his promising athletic talent for the greater good. Once a talented college basketball star, he volunteered to be a forward observer in the Marines, and with most WWII veterans, got surprised by a mortar round while lying in his fox hole. Nine operations later, and a detached shoulder, he stayed close to his love of sports by becoming a Boston sports writer, as well as a 3 handicapper. Did I mention he was tough?
When I see zany actions, like Colin Kaepernick’s, I reflect on what my father would think. Typically we’d be sitting together watching sports on the tube, when occasionally something head scratching in the world would occur. Instantly we’d both turn, our eyes meeting in silence, a mutual head shake, finishing with a small sarcastic turn of the mouth. Nothing said, but a clear understanding of how zany this world can be. I have no doubt he would appreciate the freedom of Kaepernick’s action, but would stop short of understanding how it would bring everyone together concerning racial issues in America, and in fact, would clearly decipher the divisive aftereffects.
I can envision my Dad and me sitting around the dining room table discussing Kaepernick’s action. Why did he choose not to stand during the National Anthem? Did he really think that action would help his cause in a positive way? Could he have sat down with community leaders and law enforcement to identify the underlying issues for social injustice? Could he have used his celebrity status in a different way to highlight social injustice, maybe uniting instead of dividing? Did he do this simply to detract from his poor play (chuckle)?
Let me be clear, I don’t view life through the prism of inner city youth experiencing life’s struggles, and therefore my perception may be easily distorted. For example, I may cast a young black man living in the inner city as a drug touting gang member constantly looking for trouble, when in reality he’s a hardworking, studious, and respectful youth simply looking for a way to improve his life. Conversely, someone from the inner city may look at me, a successful white guy, as someone who had it easy, when in reality I struggled with learning, overcame workplace bullies, embraced self-induced 50-60 hour work weeks, grinded thru health issues, and kept picking myself up after adversity. Is it an equal comparison, NO! Does racism still exist, YES! But everyone’s personal journey through life has a common denominator; personal accountability and how you choose to live your life. I don’t have the answers, but rather defer to the disadvantaged individuals who have successfully figured out the formula for success. It would certainly have more impact and meaning coming from them than me.
I personally have a hard time understanding racism, and why someone would be treated differently simply because of his religion, or color of skin, or ethnic background. I guess it’s a blend of historical relevance, earthly competition, jealousy, envy and pure ignorance. And given that, I don’t see it abating anytime soon. I’m hoping as our youth moves into leadership roles, and time softens our past, we’ll gradually move forward correcting social injustice; together.
It’s all about mutual respect. Mean people suck, and a dick is a dick, regardless.
My father (and all veterans) fought hard and sacrificed much for the freedoms we all enjoy, and negatively highlighting the patriotic symbolism of the National Anthem for social injustice simply missed the mark, no matter how well intentioned. It might have sparked a national debate, but sadly, that debate clearly sparked divisiveness and detracted from resolving the problem.
Having said that, I fully support “the matters movement”, and I especially support “my Dad’s Life Mattered”, since he fought so hard, and gave so much to contribute to our nation’s freedom.