I’ve only known Seattle Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett for a couple of years, and only talk with him, briefly, maybe twice a year.
But you don’t need to know him well to understand he is a very good, giving person.
I think that goodness that is his nature was nurtured by family, teachers and coaches. I also think it was reinforced by marrying a girl who is from Hawaii, and making his offseason home here in the islands.
When I’m asked to define “aloha” in one word, I say “empathy.” Whichever word you want to use, I think Bennett’s got plenty. He thinks beyond himself, and about how he can help others.
Bennett has long been an advocate for have-nots. Last year he called out Steph Curry for charging $2,250 for an overnight camp on Oahu’s North Shore; the price tag in effect excluded kids from Hawaii not from well-off families. Meanwhile, Bennett holds free camps.
Today’s column talks about how Bennett and Marshawn Lynch are All-Pro level players whose positions are probably secure because of their star status. But protest is still a courageous act.
While some will always view Bennett and other players not standing for the national anthem as a selfish and disrespectful act, maybe some will understand it better by his explanation for doing so:
“I want to be able to use this platform to continuously push the message … of how unselfish you can be as a society,” Bennett told Seattle’s KING-TV after Sunday’s preseason game, prior to which Bennett sat during the anthem. “How we can continuously love one another and understand that people are different, and just because they’re different, it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t like them. Because they don’t smell the way you smell and they don’t eat what you eat, because they don’t pray to the same god that you pray to, doesn’t mean that you should hate them.
“Whether it’s Muslim or Buddhists or Christianity, whatever it is, I just want people to understand that no matter what, we’re in this thing together. It’s more about being a human being at this point.
“First of all, I want people to understand that I love the military,” Bennett said. “My father’s in the military. I love hot dogs like any other American. I love football like any other American. But I don’t love segregation. I don’t love riots or oppression. I just want to see people have the equality that they deserve. And I want to be able to use this platform to continuously push the message of that.”