Someone Else’s Heart

When athletes began taking a knee during the National Anthem, I was inspired to write the song “Someone Else’s Heart” during the one knee protest of the national anthem. I wrote it because of the empathy I felt for the Black Lives Movement. My empathy is human, it is empirical in its nature because of this story.

When I was 9 years old in 3rd grade we lived in Wilcox, AZ. Our school was an old rickety 3 floor building (it was torn down in the 80’s I think). Our basketball court was a concrete slab raised inside a retaining wall to about 5 feet and it was surrounded on three sided by chainlink and the other side was the building itself. It was a dead end that had no exit gate. I hadn’t realized this until one day…

My mother was a Jehovah’s Witness and as such, she didn’t believe in celebrating birthdays, or any other secular US holidays. Even Easter they changed to be the Passover and never would it fall on Easter Day. So I was not allowed to even be in the room when these school celebrations occured. This marked me as an outsider. The worst of which being that every morning when we recited the pledge of allegiance, I had to remain seated. I didn’t want to, but I was still young enough not to rebel, and I was afraid Jehovah would retaliate or something. Not to mention the lashing my mother would give me. She would whip with a belt while the whole time she would be saying, now remember this hurts me more than it hurts you. Ha!

So being the new kid in school – we had just move there from Safford, AZ – I was instantly an outcast and an outsider. After a few weeks of sitting during the national anthem and the pledge of allegiance, the boys in my class decided to tech me a lesson. As class was let out they screamed “get him” – after all the glares and mumbles since my arrival, I knew it was me they wanted. So I turned left and ran like hell. I ran straight out the door an onto the basketball court. Dead end. No way out. I was trapped. Those sons of cowboys and farmers were not happy with me and they were determined to teach me a lesson. The teachers turned a blind eye to the abuse.

I was once beaten so badly I woke up in the nurses office. Where my bloody nose was left unattended as the nurse treated me like a worrisome nuisance that didn’t deserve her care or nurture. When my mother arrived she was appalled by the nurse’s lack of empathy for a 9 year old boy. So she repeated the lecture I got all during that school year: “Remember all good Christians will be persecuted.”

So I know intrinsically WHY we have a RIGHT not to salute, pledge, stand or place our hands over our hearts. At an assembly of students, they played the National Anthem and when I didn’t place my hand over my heart, later those same boys tried to make me hold my hand over my heart as one of them sand the song. Hence the line in the song: “Never hold your hand over someone else’s heart.”

I post this with love, respect and forgiveness.
Rusty Cline