I used this particular video clip this past Sunday morning as part of the 8th grade boys Sunday School class that I teach. The topic was how social media isn’t always a good thing in the way it sometimes affects our outlook on ourselves depending on the number of “likes” we get etc. The bottom line is that we use God’s Perspective (Eph 2:10) rather than a paradigm that changes from hour to hour.
This clip struck me as a good way to illustrate some of the other things about social media that aren’t always healthy, but the outcome of our discussion was a little different than I had planned.
From the start, this clip bothered me because I saw belligerence and rebellion more than anything else. This morning as I played the clip, I faced the phone towards the class so I wasn’t able to see the video, all I could do was hear the young man’s comments. In the absence of the “visual,” and without the distraction of a kid disrupting a class and challenging the authority of the teacher in front of everyone, I heard a platform that was actually very worded and loaded with substance.
Teachers are making a huge blunder by getting in front of their class and implying that they resonate only as a “paycheck.” They make matters even worse by acting out their attitude by simply disseminating content rather than truly teaching. Furthermore, a good teacher is genuinely gifted (Ex 35:34) and they’re going to do more than just enhance a student’s knowledge of a particular subject, they’re going to have a positive impact on that student’s life and character. A poor teacher will often have the exact opposit effect. That’s what that young man was getting at and he was right. And every one of the 8th graders that I teach was in agreement with what he was saying.
But when I pressed my guys for whether or not the young man in the video was right for calling out the teacher in front of everyone and being disrespectful, they all agreed that he was way south of where he needed to be. That didn’t surprise me. But what did surprise me was just how on the money this kid was in what he was saying. Apart from his manner, he had a lot of good things to say. He was correct in what a teacher’s responsibility is, but…
His platform was irretrievably compromised the moment he assaulted the “authority” of the teacher (Rom 13:1-5). In that moment, he wasn’t addressing the actions of that particular teacher, he was attacking the institution and the office of “teacher.” You never evaluate a system according to the way it’s abused and should you find fault in a person’s executution of his duties, you target the performance and not the position.
Some want to herald the kid in the video as a noble act – likening his outburst to Jesus’ cleansing of the temple. But that comparison falls short on several levels. First of all, Jesus was the Authority in the Temple. Not the Pharisees, not the Law – Him and only Him. So, He was uniquely qualified to recognized the con that was going on (selling sacrificial animals for a profit [Matt 21:13]) and putting an end to it (Jn 2:17). The kid may have had a point, but he didn’t have the authority to usurp and discredit the position of the teacher. His platform was lost the moment he disrupted the class. Not because of what he said, but because of what he did.
When our forefathers chose to challenge and cast off the authority of King George, they appealed to the authority of Scripture, they didn’t ignore it. The stance of the colonies was that governments and institutions are established by the consent of the governed, beneath the umbrella of Divine Absolutes, for the purpose of protecting and promoting what Jefferson referred to as “inalienable human rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.” The grievances documented in the Declaration amounted to more than just legislative frustrations. Taken together, they represented a collection of “usurpations.” (pronounced “YOU-zer-pay-shun”). That term refers to a violation of rights. And not just rights in the context of personal preferences or opinions. It’s not that you simply feel wronged or you feel you feel like the teacher isn’t rising to the calling of her office. It falls under the same category as what’s articulated in Acts 5:29 when Peter, addressing the Sanhedrin, who was demanding that the apostles cease their preaching the fact that Christ had risen from the grave, states that they are obligated to obey God rather than men. This is the Authority that makes the Declaration of Independence valid. It wasn’t merely the performance of King George, it was the premise upon which he approached the throne. According to the Divine Right of Kings, God did not create men equal, thus the colonies had no rights and therefore no voice in the way they were governed or in the definition of true justice. This is what justified the colonial delegates to pledge their lives and their sacred honor to the cause of liberty. It wasn’t a mere complaint, it was a refutation of the notion that a king’s authority was superior to God’s.
This kid calling into question the authority of his teacher is not a “cleansing of the temple” nor is it an honorable stand against tyranny. He’s not stirring the pot, nor is he raising awareness. He’s burying his point beneath a thick layer of beligerence that condemns the very institution he’s simultaneously appealing to for change.
Even if he were to quote a verse out of context or attempt to align himself with the actions and the approach taken by our forefathers in their quest for liberty, his stance fails the first test of legitimacy in that, because of his actions, those who are hearing him process his platform as a condemnation of an entire institution rather than a critique of a particular individual. Hence, they are obligated to address his lack of respect for a position that rightfully demands and deserves respect if, for no other reason, other than the way it promotes the general common welfare. In short, what might’ve been heard as a legitimate point is lost due to what is seen as a legitimate offense.
The same “failure” applies to the actions of Colin Kaepernick. He’s convinced that what has been circulated in the headlines constitutes a comprehensive analysis of the actions of several police officers. Based on that information, he’s resolved that a gross injustice has been played out in the context of several black individuals being killed by policemen acting out their racial prejudices. Even if his assumptions were accurate, he’s still guilty of burying his objective beneath a mound of disgrace and disrespect that reveals him more as an arrogant fool than a noble martyr (see the section entitled “Riots in the Streets” that’s a part of the article “Racism: Absolutely Not!“).
While certain Americans may be guilty of carrying out and / or condoning certain injustices, it’s not America as an ideal or as a nation that is to blame. The only reason Colin can demonstrate like he does is because of the very paradigm he spits on by not standing for the National Anthem. Yes, it is his right, but that doesn’t mean he’s right. Yes, that young man may have had a point (it’s strange that the person videoing the kid’s comments knew to have the camera rolling just as things got started, isn’t it?), but publicly challenging the teacher’s authority and thus indicting every teacher who has ever stood in front of a class, qualifies him as a problem and not as a remedy. Colin may have an issue with several officers, perhaps even several precincts. He doesn’t have a problem with America, and yet, because of his actions, that is the ideal he condemns and that is the reason he is being shunned by those who appreciate what our flag – and what our anthem – represents.