Now, before anybody gets all up in arms, let me say, I love America. I have tried to instill in my children an appreciation of what we have because we live here–the freedoms and privileges we enjoy, the opportunities we have. I spent two weeks (four if you count the hours we spent viewing Liberty’s Kids) this summer teaching them about the beginnings of this great nations. The Fourth of July is my favorite civil holiday, because I love celebrating our freedom, and remembering all the brave men and women who have sacrificed to make this country what it is today.
That being said, I just don’t like the Pledge of Allegiance (don’t be appalled–it’s not like I said I hate the Declaration of Independence or the Constitution!). I don’t like the idea of pledging my allegiance to an inanimate object. Actually, when I stop to think about it, it sounds completely ridiculous. The flag, as much I respect what she stands for, is simply a symbol, and I don’t find myself pledging allegiance to symbols. I don’t have as much problem with the “and to the republic” part, but I would still prefer to reserve the word allegiance for God–that word just carries weight for me that I don’t want to toss around lightly. I can be (and am) loyal to my country without using the word allegiance.
I really don’t like hearing the pledge said in schools, for several reasons. First of all, I don’t think most children, especially those in the lower grades, understand what they’re saying–how many children even know what the word allegiance means, or what a republic is. I would (and do) teach my children the meaning behind the words, but I doubt that most parents would take the time, I and I find it reprehensible that we would require children to recite something they don’t understand, or know if they agree with, on a daily basis.
Which bring me to my second complaint about the pledge in schools–the fact that it’s a requirement. Yes, I’m sure that there are children who get exemptions from reciting it (Jehovah’s Witnesses come to mind), but I’m sure that they’re the exception, and not the rule. A pledge should be something said out of true agreement and belief, not compulsion. If you’re *requiring* children to say, it loses meaning to them, and becomes as ridiculous as “mandatory” community service.
And watching children, especially those in Kindergarten or First Grade, standing and reciting the pledge, as a group, is a little creepy. I’ve seen them at Moose’s school, and they look like little robots. They don’t understand what they’re saying or why they’re saying it, they’re just doing it because they’re told to. Again, this compulsion doesn’t set right with me, especially after seeing the lack of feeling on the part of the children saying it.
My biggest problem with the pledge, however, is the words “under God.” I know, a Christian who takes exception to those words–what’s that all about? But here’s the thing–I think that when a group of people says the pledge together, it gives off that false sense of unity and agreement that we try to avoid by not praying with other religions. Sure, I know who the true God really is, and I know He is the one who is ultimately in control in of our country. But I don’t know what god the guy next to me thinks he’s talking to, and I don’t want to pretend that they are the same, or worse yet, that all roads lead to some benign god. That is completely unacceptable to me, and I just will not do it.
To be honest, I haven’t been in any situation where I’ve needed to say the pledge in years. If I ever came across such a time, though, I’m not sure what I would do, because while I love this country and the freedoms I have here, I don’t think I could go against such strong personal convictions. And really, isn’t that what America is all about?
*I forgot to add how much I hate the word “indivisible” in the pledge. That’s an outright lie. We have been divided in the past (Civil War, anyone?), and we are quite polarized now, on many issues. To think that this country could *never* be divided is, at best, naive.