This whole ‘take a knee’ movement and the backlash it’s created has presented some fairly alarming popular viewpoints (one being that professional sports actually matters in the big scheme of things, amirite?), but the one I want to address is this argument put forth that because these athletes are paid a certain amount of money, they should shut up and perform the job that they are paid to do and that’s it. The same argument went around when the Hamilton actors spoke out on Broadway, and I’ve heard the argument made for other performers that have used their fame to push a particular viewpoint or platform that they believed in. Basically, anyone who is in the public eye for a particular talent needs to completely separate themselves from their persona, whatever that may be.
Thinking about this, I think it’s because so many of the common folk either deliberately or instinctively do this at their place of employment, and when they finally sit down to watch the ol’ game or listen to music or attend the theater, they want 1) to just escape and not be forced to think and 2) to not allow anyone else privileges of speaking their mind when they themselves are unable to do so at the risk of being fired. If they are good little cogs in the machine, so should the entertainment class.
But this is so wrong. You should have principles that matter more to you than your job, that if someone wanted to you be immoral or to turn a blind eye, you would not be willing to do so for the sake of a paycheck. But we do because we fear – we fear consequences, we fear poverty, we fear the machine we support breaking down even knowing that eventually this machine will consume us. And then when other people don’t allow their fear to hold them back, that makes us uncomfortable, so we try to shout them down. And thus we place our own chains of servitude around our own necks, and we try to pretend those chains don’t exist, and we try to trap those who would escape. It’s really sad.
So, if you find yourself being uncomfortable reading this, really ask yourself what your principles are. If you aren’t willing to defend them, you need to find some better ones probably. We have so much amazing potential as a species if we just let the fear and pettiness go.