keep-calm-and-take-a-knee

I’m going to be honest: the first half of the Super Bowl this year left me bitter. It wasn’t simply the political commercials or the overpaid athletes who scoff at the struggles of middle America. It wasn’t the overblown importance ascribed to a game that hasn’t been worth watching in some time. It was the game itself.

The game was a farce, much like the season. The second quarter saw Atlanta manhandle the Patriots. It was a cliche; the young Falcons were overwhelming their peers heralding the end of an era. This was THEIR time. Out of nowhere, the Falcons stole this season and were set on making history. After the half, that all changed. The Patriots went down 28-5, but they didn’t quit. With time running out, they incrementally took the field back, building on momentum, pushing forward against what everyone kept screaming were impossible odds. Nothing flashy, nothing profound. Work and determination marched them down that field earned from years of hard hitting games and practice. Brady and the Patriots proved nothing is impossible. They proved what discipline, dedication, and iron will can achieve.

The game is an excellent symbol for the problems in America today. You have the youth who are told consistently they are today, they are tomorrow, they are solely what matters. In culture, music, fashion, world view, they know better than their elders. Their elders simply don’t get it, don’t understand, and need to get out of the way because they are holding up youth’s place in the spotlight. Let the revolution commence!

This recent election was their Super Bowl. They believed their opinion is what mattered, the polls supported their growing authority, the media championed their redefining of gender and mores, and they sat back and waited for the world to just give in as it has for the last decade as everything has geared itself to them. When it seemed impossible to lose, they did. Their elders turned back the tide and by the slimmest of margins, snatched victory from the inept hands of the young. And the look on the faces of that generation was the same one the Falcons wore as they watched the game being taken from them. After the initial flash and emotion fueled drive, reality set in. Experience, effort, and faith turned back capricious intentions, shallow narcicism, and vague generalities. When confronted with true adversity, youth crumbled because they faced that lesson that defines maturity: you are not infallible. Life does not cherish you, it does not coddle you, it will challenge you. When a boxer takes his first uppercut, a student receives their first F, or one suffers their first auto crash, youth discovers their vulnerability; their mortality. That first taste, that defines you. Will you get up? Can you find it in yourself to press on? And even if you fail, will you let that define you or drive you?

You kids skip class because you need to ‘mourn.’ You protest everything, sometimes violently, rather than opening a dialogue, finding compromise. That time you skip class is a lost opportunity to get an education, make something of yourself, and make your voice heard. Those riots you indulge in are destroying the assets of others and stripping you of any respect and thus any validity. Those dreams you have, they’re nothing but dreams until you take valid action to make them real.

The Falcons gave up. They gave up because they had bought into the lie that they were the best offense in the NFL, that the odds were in their favor. They stopped taking the game seriously because ‘it was theirs.’ As the Patriots were overwhelmed in the first half, it only further confirmed Atlanta’s belief in their infallibility. And then they fumbled. Then the Patriots scored again. And again. And again. The Falcons lost heart. They gave up because at their core was emptiness. They did not know adversity. They did not realize the drive needed because everything had come easy. And when Life finally gave them that well earned uppercut, they fell. They fell hard.

This is the problem of youth. Youth does not understand the struggles of life, the effort needed to accomplish one’s goals. They think their word should have weight even though such words ring hollow without the substance of experience. Hence the tantrums that have roiled this nation for the last several months. The youth were handed a loss and they can’t fathom how they could lose. Rather than step back, evaluate, and learn, they scream and blame others for their shortcomings, tell a generation that they don’t get it. Toss everything out and accept what youth so emotionally believes. It doesn’t matter how foolish, contradictory, or hypocritical it is; how self-serving and naive it proves.

This entire season has been telling. Brady, an athlete with amazing talent is booed and mocked while Kaepernick, a fading star, is lauded for his unprofessional conduct. While Brady pushed on to another Super Bowl, he was ignored while Kap received accolades for taking a knee all season. This is what a generation has come to.

Atlanta fell because it bought cheap hype rather than paid the price in sweat. They let youthful exuberance rather than fostered talent define them. Will they come back from this? Will they grow?

Kids, your most important question is will you wake up and realize that life owes you nothing or continue to fall apart when more than flash and arrogant optimism is required? Everything has a price. Even if you fail, guess what, that’s life. It’s not the loss but what comes after that defines you.

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