Taking a stand

Published 7:23 am Saturday, October 21, 2017

Commentary by Dr. Don Newbury


The current standing/kneeling/sitting controversy–played out by a sliver of our population but on the minds of most Americans–seems to have no end.

Most of us yearn for bygone days, when allegiance could be paid and reverence shown, if only for the sake of civility and respect, whether or not we were in total lockstep agreement.

Sadly, “agree” in some quarters has become a dirty word. Somewhere, a tear rolls down the face of Kate Smith, who drew all of us to full attention with her marvelous solos of “God Bless America.” Countless times these renditions elicited tears from the masses of a thankful nation.

In our current world of ups and downs, we often aren’t sure whether to stand, sit or kneel. It’s as if we’re all kindergarteners, trying to remember which hand to place over our heart, which flag to face and when to stand at the proper Christmas moment when Handel’s “Messiah” and its Hallelujah Chorus ring the rafters.

For years, it was difficult to remember “what to do when.” Embarrassment loomed if we got it wrong. Today, as full grown adults, we do the best we can to “get it right,” never dreaming there might be substantial criticism whether the “way we roll” on standing, kneeling or sitting is right or wrong.

Our forefathers did better to “major on majors.” We can do likewise with renewed respect for civility as a good starting point.

It is sad that we no longer have national voices to soften dominating screams.

I cite the wit and wisdom of the late Will Rogers. He greatly calmed. So did the inimitable Paul Harvey, whose clarion voice thrilled us greatly with more than 70 years of daily radio broadcasts.

Both Rogers and Harvey were “smile makers,” even in the darkest of days.

Today, too much is muddled. Often, whether to “laugh, cry or go home” poses a “tri-lemma,” swirling around in the sea of imponderables.

On the sidelines of football fields today are some players whose concerns may be legitimate, but registered at the wrong time and place.

Failure to do other than stand respectfully for a minute or so during the playing of our National Anthem is not too much to ask. To do otherwise gives kneeling a bad name.

A story is told of a telephone repairman overhearing a conversation about postures of prayer espoused by a preacher, a rabbi and a priest having coffee in a diner.

One espouses kneeling, another likes falling prostrate and one favors bowing.

The repair guy interrupts the trio to say, “Sometimes my best praying is done when I’m hanging by one leg from a telephone pole.”

Sixty years ago, the late Dr. Guy D. Newman waxed engagingly as he did during weekly chapel sermons at Howard Payne University. I was a sophomore, and became “lump-throated” with our revered president’s reading of a poem: “No man escapes when freedom fails, the best men rot in filthy jails, and those who scream ‘appease, appease,’ are hanged by those they tried to please.”

Turns out the poem was written a decade earlier by Lt. Col. Hiram Mann, who distinguished himself in the U.S. Air Force during WW II as a member of the “Tuskegee Airmen.”

A true military hero, he persevered from early days as a hotel bellman, eventually gaining both bachelor’s and master’s degrees. He insisted on serving his country during WW II, and returned home an aviation hero. A guest speaker at hundreds of colleges, he underscored the importance of education and patience. I want to know more about this patriot, who died at age 92 just three years ago. He did not grow weary in repeating reasonable questions, many of which finally warranted reasonable answers. I want to better understand how he remained committed to Christian ideals despite many responses–both governmental and societal–that could easily have turned him away.


Dr. Newbury is a speaker in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex. Inquiries/comments to:newbury@speakerdoc.com Phone: 817-447-3872. Web site: www.speakerdoc.com. Twitter: @donnewbury. Facebook: don newbury.