Topic Author
Posts: 2503
Joined: Wed Jan 05, 2000 3:11 am

The Problem.

Sun Jun 30, 2002 3:16 am

In a recent post, someone informed us that in America we have freedom of speech. Thus, the American school child is not required to partake in the recital of "the Pledge" or any other similar patriotic ado.

The problem isn't about religion or not, whether it's in what we do or not, the problem is that Freedom of Speech isn't real. In the American public school, you do not have a choice about standing and showing respect to the flag. They obviously cannot force you to speak the Pledge, but that is because there's no physical way to make another human talk. I have been scolded by many teachers and given detentions by a few simply for not saying the Pledge or even for not standing up during it. Freedom of what?

The problem is, as explained clearly to us in a magazine headline several months back, that America has a very anesthetic culture. Ask any kid coming out of any high school assembly what "allegiance" means. "Pledge?" they'll say, "Sounds like lemony cleaning solution..." American children, for the most part, do not say the Pledge because they are pledging anything or because they even give a ((expletive)). They're saying it because they were taught it in kindergarten and have proceeded to repeat it every day in that same droning tone. I've asked plenty of them and most of them agree, it's words, and little more. Few are pledging anything, and few are willing. In the post-911 world which we live in, yes, more will claim hardcore patriotism and say those words with pride.

I couldn't care less whether the words "under God" are in the pledge because I don't say it. I am a person who beleives in equality for all, not just Americans. Freedom doesn't come in just three colors and I'll be damned before I'll pledge allegiance to a petty nation, mere lines drawn in the sandbox or shouting, "This is my side of the tent" on a family camping trip. America is a great nation, for certain, but as long as it defends itself as just that - a nation - it cannot stand a chance of making anything of itself but a mockery when it speaks of equality. "We're all equal - and we're the best." No. That doesn't work.

Some say, "If you don't like it, don't say it" about the words, "under God", and that's quite my point - it's the pledge of allegiance, for cryin' out loud. If you know what those words mean, then you know it should mean something to you. But not only don't most school children know what they mean, they don't care. So, ignore part of it? Sure. It's just the pledge, right? Who cares. Leave half of it out if you don't like. You can call that Freedom of Speech, or you can call that kids not caring one way or the other. If a nation is going to have a Pledge, it needs to be one that everyone can say and mean. And that's not possible if we're forced to say it, and that's not possible if any word in it isn't something that we all agree on. Ignore it, they say. I wish I could. Somehow the hand on my collar pulling me to stand up, choking me, is a little too hard too ignore.

This is my patriotism. Hear it whimper.
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Joined: Wed Dec 01, 1999 7:19 am

RE: The Problem.

Sun Jun 30, 2002 5:15 am

When I was younger, I didn't feel I should be 'forced' to say the pledge. Not because of the 'Under God' part but because I was a rebel. Now, I don't say it because I don't need to. I live in this country and I vote. I think that is allegence enough, thank you very much.
What this person in California does not seem to understand is that this country was founded by Christians. Christians that were seeking a way to practice religion without being shunned and persecuted. Why all the references to God in our government? Because the founding fathers (and mothers) were VERY RELIGIOUS!
I personally am not Christian. I do however believe in a higher power. God, Allah, Vishnu, or whatever we wish to call that higher power. I feel that the term 'Under God' is a blanket statement. If this athiest chooses not to believe in any higher power, then he should teach is child to either not say the pledge or leave out the 'Under God' and quit wasting everyone elses time!
Patriotic and Proud Liberal
Topic Author
Posts: 2503
Joined: Wed Jan 05, 2000 3:11 am

RE: The Problem.

Sun Jun 30, 2002 5:22 am

My point was that there's no point in saying it if you're going to say it without some of the words. Why have a single, beautiful, powerful, organized set of words if they don't matter?
It's not about one or two words, it's about what means something to people and why, and and if this means anything to anyone, not, it seems, the right things.
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Joined: Fri May 08, 2015 3:37 am

RE: The Problem.

Sun Jun 30, 2002 6:44 am

Actually one of the reasons that the Pledge has gone so long unchallenged with "under God" in it is the concept that habitual, repetitive use, over and over without thought or consideration, has caused it to lose its' meaning.

When I was in college I failed Greek lit. On purpose. Why? Because the entire course was designed for frantic memorization of Greek classics. It was literally designed for Cliff's Notes, the cheap, abridged pamphlets full of someone else's interpretations of the books, specially designed for testing.......and the professor admitted as much. Read Homer in a week? In college. With a job.


I informed my professor that if I was going to read The Odyssey, The Illiad or any number of the required text, I was going to read it the way the author intended. I was going to experience it myself. The whole thing.

The Pledge in my opinion is used more and more quite like Cliff's Notes. We don't bother to immerse ourselves in why our country is great, what's great about it, and especially who made it that way, what they were thinking and how we got here. The Pledge is our "abridged" version. We force feed it to children, cause after all, "they gotta learn patriotism and respect" at a young age. The Pledge is a powerful symbol of patriotism. But if you hang your hats on symbols alone, without deep thought as to what they mean....well the last hundred years are stuffed with examples of where that takes you.

I think kids learned more about patriotism from the passengers aboard Flight 93 than they could from 800 years of daily Pledge recitals. I think one quiet visit with a Vietnam vet to The Wall in Washington could teach them more about sacrificing for one's country....and questioning that sacrifice as well...then all the Pledges ever said by tired, cranky school kids at 830 in the morning, blurting out these words cause the dame who runs things up front said so.

One thing I've kept having to remind myself this past week is that I'm patriotic, whether I read the Pledge or not. I've watched a cadre of people I consider to be downright evil......Jerry Falwell, Bob Barr, Trent Lott, Rush Limbaugh and the usual assortment of right wing mullahs.....tumbling over themselves to out-patriot each other in defense of the Pledge. My patriotism takes a back seat to my cynicism, which flares like a bad case of gout whenever I see these clowns. If they like the Pledge, I musn't right? If they think "under God" is right, then I must think it's wrong. If they wave the flag, then the flag must belong more to them than me.

And when I start thinking that, I've allowed a small victory for these people to happen in my soul. This is a thing that liberals fall so easily into, to this day. They hate the message, the messengers and their symbols. Yet they completely forget the symbols aren't exclusively licensed to their enemies. They are labelled "use at will" ...for anyone.

I wrap this week up reading about George Washington. 1st President, military tactician, patriot, intellectual.....and a whole helluva lot more into God than my hero, Thomas Jefferson. Yet Washington himself set the tone which I think was ignored in these past few days.

In his inauguration, as the United States officially gained its' very first President, Washington was required to say these words:

"I, (GW), do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and I will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States."

The words remain the same to this day. On that day in 1789, President Washington added "So help me God" to the end. It was not required. It was his choice. No one made him say it, no act of Congress was passed, no court rulings, nothing. He invoked the Almighty amidst a land of people deeply grateful to the Almighty. But it was not the law.

I wonder what kind of a week he would have had.

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