George Clooney wrote a lovely poem, actually a prayer, about the athletes who took a knee during the American National Anthem. He shared his concern for all of God’s children. Truly inclusive. And he ended this lovely prayer with “And when I pray, I kneel.”

Photo: Joel Ryan, Associated Press

But does he say this prayer in the middle of the street and kneel? Or when he is on set and rehearsing for the next shot, does he kneel in prayer? Or does he respect others and not stop and drop to a knee to make a point.

Here is his prayer:

I pray for my country.

I pray that we can find more that unites us than divides us.

I pray that our nation’s leaders want to do the same.

I pray that young children like Tamir Rice can feel safe in their own neighborhood.

I pray for all of our children.

I pray for our police and our first responders.

I pray for our men and women of the armed services.

I pray that dissent will always be protected in this great country.

I pray for a more perfect union.

And when I pray, I kneel.

I never think of prayer as making a point. Prayer is between me and my referent of God.

It appears to me that Mr. Clooney is comparing taking a knee during the National Anthem to prayer. But this action offended millions of people who think of the flag and the National Anthem as sacred-like prayer. So is Mr. Clooney telling us that some “prayers” are more important than others? That one can besmirch the sacred symbols of millions in order to make a point about discrimination? Is taking a knee during a sacred moment not an act of discrimination, hatred against others? Are we now going to enter into a question of rights? Whose right to pray, to kneel, is more deserving than another? Whose idea of sacred is more deserving of a voice?

It seems Mr. Clooney thinks so. I read:

“Clooney, who raised millions for Hillary Clinton during her 2016 presidential bid, clearly pledges his support for NFL players kneeling during the national anthem in his 10-line prayer.”

I suggest that Mr. Clooney read Ecclesiastes  and hear the words of a very wise Preacher who tells us that there is a time for everything under heaven. A time and a place for everything under heaven.

Ecclesiastes 3-8

There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:

    a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
    a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
    a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
    a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
    a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
    a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
    a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.

There is a time and a place to talk about inequality and discrimination in a nation that is blessed, yet imperfect, for we, as humans, are imperfect. There is a way to share one’s fears and anxieties, one’s pain without demeaning millions of others as if they, too, did not have feelings and anxieties and pain.

There is a time to kneel, and a time to stand.



“Rabbi Tarfon used to say, it is not incumbent upon you to complete the task, but you are not exempt from undertaking it.”