Monday, October 10, 2016

dissecting pledge

There have been many postings on Facebook about the Pledge of Allegiance being mandatory in schools. Pledges are fine if people including children know what they are pledging. Let's look at the Pledge of Allegiance.

Here's a bit of its history
  • Written by Colonel George Balch in 1887.
  • Revised by Francis Bellamy, a Baptist minister,  revised it in 1892
  • Adopted by Congress in 1942
  • Amended with the words "under God" in 1954 on Flag Day has more of the history including debates, why word changes were made and challenges.

If one is going to do something as serious as make a pledge to a nation of 323 million people, they should know what they are promising and why.

Let's analyze it
I pledge allegiance
  • A pledge is a serious promise
  • Allegiance is loyalty to a group, person, country
If you believe that promises are serious and if you believe loyalty is important saying it is a commitment.

To the flag of the United States of America

A flag is a piece of cloth of various shapes and colors. 
  • Flags can be patriotic symbols
  • Flags often have military associations based on their use going back to ancient times
  • Flags were often heraldic in nature helping soldiers find their leaders
  • National flags were more or less derived from ship flags which helped identify the country of origin of a ship
And to the Republic for which it stands
Merriam Webster defines a Republic as:
"a (1) :  a government having a chief of state who is not a monarch and who in modern times is usually a president  

"(2) :  a political unit (as a nation) having such a form of government b (1) :  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 (2) :  a political unit (as a nation) having such a form of government

Much has been written that the US is now an oligarchy which Merriam Webster defines as
  • "a country, business, etc., that is controlled by a small group of people
  • : the people that control a country, business, etc.
  • : government or control by a small group of people"
 When we are looking at things like Citizens United, the bought and paid for congress maybe the wording should be changes to "and to the oligarchy for which it stands."

One nation indivisible 
Technically the US is one nation comprised of many different demographical groups. When a person makes a pledge to the US do they know:
  • All the states, the capitals, the products, the problems, the strengths
  • The makeup of their government including the names of the major office holders
  • How local, state and national governments function
  • The foreign policy of the country and why including the other countries point of view
The last item is especially important because part of the pledge means giving approval to good and bad activities. It could mean sacrificing one's life.

Under God
These words were added supposedly in reaction to Communism. Does that mean atheists, Muslims, Hindus, etc. cannot promise their loyalty to the US?

With liberty and justice for all
 What a wonderful concept, but the US falls far short here.

Judges who get kickbacks for sending people to prison, trials where evidence that would free the plaintiff is held back by the court, police forces threatening witnesses into perjury, etc. The US has the highest incarceration rate in the world.

Being a citizen is serious.

It implies a deep commitment to the country one lives in.

Pledging loyalty to a country is a good thing, but unless one understands all the implications, mouthing the words of the pledge is mere gobblygook.

Children should not be allowed to recite the pledge until they have a knowledge of their country's history, government, policies etc. They are too young to know what they are doing. If they are to become productive, responsible citizens they need this understanding.

When they have the knowledge and perhaps after an indepth exam than they can be allowed to make the pledge and the first time should be a ceremonial much like a First Communion or a wedding.

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