Quiet Desperation

There’s a lot to be said for a moment of silence


Man goes to see his doctor and says, “Doc, every time I hit my hand with a hammer it hurts.”

Doctor says, “Stop hitting your hand with a hammer.”

That’s one of the oldest jokes I’ve ever stolen, but there is some wisdom in it, and I think it might have a contemporary application that would solve a number of problems.

I think we could do away with the national anthem, played or performed, before all athletic events, and not miss it.

What’s wrong with, “Play ball”?

Would it be traitorous?

I don’t think so. It’s simply a tradition. Not a mandate.

What, exactly, directly, and specifically does the national anthem have to do with a professional football game (for example)?

The anthem is an important and meaningful acknowledgment of the freedoms we enjoy in America, as well as a salute to the men and women — past and present — who have served this country in the armed forces (and I would include law enforcement officers).

A professional football game is a game, not an occasion of solemnity or a function that generally or specifically pertains to anyone’s vigorous support of the United States.

It’s entertainment.

The anthem isn’t played before a concert at Red Rocks, before a symphony at Boettcher, or before bingo on South Federal.

The anthem has been in the news ever since quarterback Colin Kaepernick took a knee. It’s in the news right now, because the National Football League has decided players must stand for it.

Good luck with that.

However, players can remain in the locker room.

Good luck with that.

President No. 45 said if they don’t stand maybe “they shouldn’t be in the country.”

Brilliant, as ever.

We like to manufacture controversy where there doesn’t have to be any.

I am sure there are those would think the sky had fallen if the national anthem were no longer played.

I would like to recommend something else.

Silence. Silence is golden.

Simply ask everyone to respect a moment of silence, and let people contemplate whatever they wanted: the United States of America, veterans, God, friendship, sobriety, peace, Krispy Kremes, Ford F-150s, Kurt Vonnegut, “Stairway to Heaven.”

I’m not kidding.

How about a quiet moment before these overpaid clods collide?

As it is right now, the anthem is not being respected by everyone else in the stadium. What about them?

Will the day come when technology will pick them out like flawed apples being scanned at the sauce factory?

The guy behind you has his cap on backwards. The girl in front of you is texting. The couple down the row is taking a selfie.

And there are others who feel exactly like some of the football players do, and they sit.

I will never understand why we impose our beliefs on others. It leads to arguments and lawsuits and riots and deaths.

I realize my suggestion won’t be taken seriously. With traditions come obstinacy, and a general unwillingness to change. In this case, over a nearly-impossible-to-sing song, that is a symbol, albeit a good symbol, of something that has nothing to do with what ensues. A game.

If the song doesn’t rise, the game will go on just as it would have, and there would be no recriminations.

Craig Marshall Smith is an artist, educator and Highlands Ranch resident. He can be reached at craigmarshallsmith@comcast.net.


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