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.