I’ve seen the ad now, so I feel like I should write a follow-up.
I don’t hate it. It actually has some very good points.
The voice over is done by Colin Kaepernick, of course. As an aside, I agree with him that police brutality is wrong. I agree with him that racism is wrong. How I disagree is in the way that he chooses to protest these things.
So, back to the ad.
I watched the ad several times, and thought about the words and the images it portrayed. And I think the entire ad can be condensed into four inspirational statements. Let’s look at these one by one.
1. Dream of being the best ever at whatever you are doing, and then believe that it’s possible. I agree with this one. Ecclesiastes 9:10 says “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might.” This is a good goal, but I would qualify it by adding 1 Corinthians 10:31 “Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” Be the best you that you can be, for God’s glory.
2. Don’t limit yourself with other people’s expectations. This is also a good motto, if qualified correctly. If you aspire to being the fastest runner, or the funniest comedian, or the best doctor, that’s great. If your goal is to become the most famous serial killer ever, that’s not great. In cases like that, you should indeed allow other people’s expectations to limit you. But in a general sense, this is a good thing. If someone tells you that you can’t do something because “you’re not good enough”, see if hard work and effort can overcome your perceived inadequacy. On the other hand, some people should be told by their loved ones that they aren’t great singers BEFORE they arrive at American Idol tryouts. Sometimes our limitations are there because that’s not what we were meant to do.
3. Stop idolizing famous people. Instead, become famous. I agree with the first half of this one, but not the second. I agree that we need to stop putting other human beings on a pedestal, because they’re just as fallible as we are. However, Hebrews 12:2 says we are to look to Jesus. 2 Timothy 2:15 says we are to present ourselves as workmen who need not be ashamed. Galatians 6:9 says we should not grow tired in doing good. In these and other examples we see that our goal should be to reveal how good God is, and not how good we are. Be the best at what you do so that people will say how amazing God is for giving you those talents.
4. Believe in something even if it means sacrificing everything. The final statement is the tagline of the campaign, and it too is correct, if qualified. Obviously some things are worth sacrificing everything for. I would sacrifice my life to protect the lives of my family. I would willingly spend the rest of my life in prison if defending my family became illegal. I would sacrifice whatever it took to make sure that my family does not go hungry, working nights, weekends, etc. If your goal is good, then no sacrifice is too great. I will go where God wants me to go and do what God wants me to do, even if it is unpleasant, dangerous, or even deadly.
The only problem with the ad is that at the moment the last statement is uttered, Colin turns around and looks at the camera as if to indicate that he has sacrificed everything because of what he believes. I take issue with this, because so many other people are much clearer examples of sacrificing everything than this man.
Let’s review what we know about Kaepernick. His biological mother is white and his father is black. He was adopted as a baby by an upper class family. He played football and was drafted in 2011. He wasn’t the starting QB for the first two seasons, but became the starter for 2013. That was his best year, with a 12-4 record. The next year the 49ers were 8-8, and then in 2015 they started the season with just two wins and eight losses when the coach decided to bench him. A week later he had an injury that required surgery, making him inactive for the rest of the year. He started his protest in the 2016 NFL preseason. He wasn’t the starting QB until week 6, and started 11 games that year, losing every game except one. Let’s not act as if he was flying high, with a great career that he risked by protesting. He wasn’t doing well at all.
He only had one more year on his contract, which he opted out of so that he could play somewhere else, but unfortunately his intangibles made him a risky prospect for even those teams that might gamble on his flashes of greatness. He hasn’t played since. Part of that is because of his protest, and part is because he’s just really not that good, consistently.
Given the fact that his career was on the rocks, I don’t believe that Kaepernick should be the first person you think of when you think of sacrificing everything for an ideal. He didn’t even sacrifice very much, since his net worth is around 20 million dollars. He just isn’t playing professional football anymore.
There are other people that are far more worthy of being the first person you think of when you think of sacrifice. I can think of one right off the top of my head: Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Philippians says that even though He was God, he came to earth, willingly put Himself through all the suffering that we go through every day, was surrounded minute-by-minute with the sin of the world, and finally suffering and dying on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins, since He had none of His own. THAT is the picture of someone who sacrificed everything for something good. And He is worth believing in. Come to think of it, if you don’t believe in Him, nothing else matters.