“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.”
I just wrote that out for perhaps the first time since grade school. It’s so weird if you think about it. First off, it sounds like a binding contract. (That may be why my inner lawyer advised me to put it in quotes.)
But we were pledging allegiance at the age of six? I’m not a crazy radical or conspiracy theorist. In fact, I’m quite patriotic. However, it’s a bit much for a kid who doesn’t yet comprehend what a “republic” is or can’t tell the difference between “indivisible” and “individual.”
A lot of kids in my class mumbled “individual” for years, which is tinged with irony on a couple of levels:
1. That’s the opposite of “indivisible” if it can be broken into disparate parts.
2. We really should be individuals if we have the liberty to do whatever we want.
This free will was demonstrated every morning in our third grade classroom by this kid who, every day, sat for the National Anthem and refused to say the Pledge. (I think his family even used Endust at home.)
We didn’t make a big deal out of it, other than the fact that he was a social outcast. Not sure of the cause/effect relationship there – I think he was generally disliked, regardless of his lack of patriotism. (But was it a lack of patriotism? Maybe he was simply demonstrating his right to not stand, which is guaranteed in the Bill of Rights. (Nah. He wasn’t that noble. He was kind of a douche.))
I don’t know much beyond the Pledge beyond the fact that we added “under God” to it in 1954. So, I turned to the omniscient Wikipedia, which just taught me that the original Pledge, composed by Christian Socialist Edward Bellamy in 1892, read:
I pledge allegiance to my flag and the Republic for which it stands, one nation indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
Well, without even reading further, I knew that would have to be changed because recent immigrants may mix up to which flag they were pledging allegiance. And that’s exactly why the change was made to incorporate the USA.
The irony continues. Wikipedia also educated me on what a Christian Socialist is. It “generally refers to those on the Christian left whose politics are both Christian and socialist and who see these two philosophies as being interrelated.” So, the Pledge was written by a liberal who was looking to protect immigrants from the scourge of nationalism. And yet for a long time everyone was required to say it.
This is similar to the flag-burning amendment. I recall writing a joke about how it was ironic that we were banned from destroying the very symbol that gives us the freedom to destroy it. Then I learned Bill Hicks beat me to the punch on that one.
Even though I am spiritual and religious and monotheistic, I think “under God” should be extricated, if for no other reason that it’s hard enough to get everyone on the same page politically. Now, they want to also tackle religion? In one sentence? That, too, is a bit much.
But no matter your political or religious leanings, I wish you a Happy Fourth of July. I do believe that, at our core, we are a good and great nation, and while we have a long way to go and we make our fair share of mistakes, we do stand for liberty and justice for all. We’re getting there. So, even if our national and international policies can be divisive and it seems that our problems seem to be multiplying, “sum” of us want to make a difference.