‘Taking the Knee’: The Embodied Nature of Symbolism

More basically than all the words, politics, interpretations, and reactivity around the process of “taking a knee,” this embodied gesture has symbolic meaning and power both in and beyond our own culture. Off the football field, even a cursory look or Google search turns up rich context for this profoundly simple movement in such varied venues as the depth psychology of C. G. Jung, practices and teachings of Yoga, rites of the world’s great religions, coronation and knighthood ceremonies among the world’s monarchies, and rituals of indigenous peoples. It’s even a recurring motif in popular culture through all seven seasons of the most popular and award-winning show on television, the HBO series Game of Thrones!

In all of these diverse venues the taking of a knee shares a universal and (at least until now) a readily understood meaning: an expression of humility, deference to a higher authority/higher good, even reverence.


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