I just came across a news story from Boston in which a family wants to have the line “under God” removed from the Pledge of Allegiance.
I’m sorry for linking to a news story from weeks ago, but considering how untrustworthy the news media can be what difference does it make? Besides, it doesn’t really matter what the latest news on this topic is. I just posted the link as an example to illustrate the point that I’m making today. I completely agree with the family that the Pledge of Allegiance should not include the phrase “under God.” I would go even further and say instead of rewriting the pledge, let’s abolish it altogether. But I understand that it’s being said in public schools, which are run by the government. Not only do they teach kids a variety of subjects (supposedly) they also want to make sure the kids see the government in a positive light. I can’t blame the school system for having the pledge there.
Still, we are guaranteed a separation of church and state. It’s wrong for children to be forced to say that line even if they don’t believe in said god. When I was a child that still had to say the pledge I was allowed to skip the line in question. I can’t remember but I think that once or twice I skipped saying it entirely although I stood with the other students. If I had my feelings about our government then as I do now I probably would skip it more often.
Allegiance isn’t something that should be forced, it should be earned. I don’t know what the rules are for kids who don’t want to say the pledge altogether. I know a retired schoolteacher who said that she had students who were Jehovah’s Witnesses and as such they couldn’t say the pledge. She still made them stand and keep quiet but it wasn’t out of the meaning of the pledge; it was more of a way of keeping order. Fine. But the students aren’t taught what exactly they mean when they pledge their allegiance and what exactly they’re pledging to. Maybe the schools should be teaching their students exactly why they should feel the way should when saying it. After all, the words are meaningless when they’re just repeated words to brainwash people. The words should be felt as well as said.
I’m reminded of the child in the Aldous Huxley novel “Brave New World” who was taught to recite the knowledge that the Nile is the longest river in the world. When asked the child couldn’t tell the adult what the longest river in the world was. However, when the adult promoted the child to recite the facts, the child would do so flawlessly without taking in what the information was. The same goes for the Pledge of Allegiance. I don’t really remember ever being taught what the pledge meant or why I was saying it. I was just told that I had to. Doubtlessly the teachers were told they had to make me.
I have one more literary reference I feel is relevant here. If we do decide to rewrite the Pledge of Allegiance, I think we should take a que from Calvin: