Wednesday, March 10, 2010

I Pledge Allegiance To The Flag??

Ha! You thought I was all about bad boys and starfish and drankin-smokin-straight- West-Coastin, didn't you??

Well today I want to talk about something a little more serious:

The Pledge of Allegiance

Ever since I was little it bothered me that I had to recite the pledge. No one ever sat down and explained what it meant, or why we say it - even in private school. It was just expected that day in, day out everyone lined up like zombies and recited these sacred words. What bullshit.

By the time I realized that legally, my school could not make me say it, it was so ingrained in me that I usually still said it anyway. That sparked a whole 'nother thought in my mind which as an adult would come to be this: Why would I want to say something that I didn't mean and more importantly - if it was something I should mean, then why did the government have to jam it down my throat since I was five?

I have told my son since he started school that he did not have to say the pledge. In fact, I preferred if he didn't. Now in third grade, it came up in the car this morning. He said that he usually doesn't say it, except when the teacher looks at him because he doesn't want to get "busted".

Of course I flipped. I went into the whole "You stand up for what you believe in" and "If your teacher don't like it she can kiss my ass" lecture. I thought I had made it clear before, but understandably, when you're told to do something every day and everyone else does it too, it's easy to conform.

Say What You Mean, Mean What You Say

In order to truly be for or against reciting this pledge we must first take a look at what it means.

"I pledge allegiance to the flag
of the United States of America
and to the republic for which it stands.
One nation, under God, indivisible,
with liberty and justice for all."

Merriam-Webster has several definitions for the word "allegiance". One of which is "the fidelity owed by a subject or citizen to a sovereign or government" and another of which is "devotion or loyalty to a person, group, or cause".

So now that we understand the meaning of what we're pledging, let's take a look at what we're pledging it to - "the REPUBLIC" for which the flag stands. The most appropriate and complete definition listed for "republic" is "a government in which supreme power resides in a body of citizens entitled to vote and is exercised by elected officers and representatives responsible to them and governing according to law".

The government. That's what it all boils down to. Why would a kindergartner (or a high school student for that matter) need to pledge their allegiance to the government?

Now the rest of it - that's beautiful, but it's contradictory, naive, and just plain not true:

"One nation under God" we are not, because we are supposed to have religious freedom. Although I personally have a strong faith in God, separation of church and state is what this country was supposedly founded on.

"Indivisible" we clearly are not, evident by the Civil War within this country from 1861-1865. The pledge was written in 1892, a time when our country was probably more so divided than ever. Not to mention, today our government wants to keep us divided and pitted against each other. It takes the focus off of what's really going down.

And I think we know that "liberty and justice for all" is a bold faced lie. It would take me 100 more blog posts to discuss the fallacies of that statement - from racism, sexism, our corrupt justice and welfare systems and the countless other atrocities our government has committed against it's own people.

COMMON SENSE tells me that our esteemed leaders have been lying to me and programming me to believe those lies since I was a child and it all started with the Pledge of Allegiance. THAT is why I had the discussion I did with my son. It's NOT OK to program people. We're NOT supposed to be robots.

It made me realize that maybe I need to be more educated about politics and what goes on in our government - what they want you to know and what they don't. How am I supposed to show him he should be different if I can't articulate to him why he should be different?

Fuck that pledge though.

* I encourage anyone with an opinion about the subject to leave their thoughts and comments. This type of post is definitely new and different for me, so also let me know how you liked it (or didn't). Thanks!!

1 comment:

  1. And you knew I would come....

    I have to admit, I never thought about it that way. But I was kinda thinking about this stuff tonight as well, since I drive around listening to conservative talk radio (can't stand the opinions, but definitely more educational thatn NPR or The Bone 104.3 - who the FUCK would name a radio station "The Bone" anyway? Jussayin')

    We live in a series of contradictions - we are a nation of individuals, which makes us stronger. Does it? There's really not such a thing as a "nation of individuals". You're either one or the other, although perhaps it shoud not be that way. And I think as a nation we were better off as a nation than as individuals...perhaps that's just the pack mentality, but it's true - the PIlgrims didn't come to the US to just exist outside of a nation. They came here to start a nation of their own.

    Now obviously nations are much different than individuals. As an individual I don't require your allegiance, in fact, if I had it, I would cease to be an individual, right? I'd be part of a small group that relied one the other members for support and/or protection.

    Like a nation.

    The truth is we need to commit ourselves to nationhood because its the power of the nationhood that gives us the freedom to work as individuals UNDER that freedom, to walk that contradiction, to bee dat.

    As for the government dividing us...a fairly astute observation, but the basic tenet of our nationhood is that WE are the government. We still choose who goes in and who goes out, and if it doesn't feel that way, it's because apathy is at an all-time-low. We can't overcome the barriers to enetering into politics because too few of us actually attempt it. When voter turnout exceeds 50% of the US population we consider that "high voter turnout". And why? Because te perception is that we can't make a difference, that as individuals, we can't change the face of our government. But we CAN...once we get out of our own self-absorbent lifestyle and realize that not only does our country need us, but it needs everyone else too. The powers-that-be will remain so as long as we just hand our freedoms over to them.

    I would applaud your efforts to understand what all the hoopla is about the pledge, and would posit to you the idea that the reason he should understand it is the exact reason why he doesnt have to say it.