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.
Thirty one words. Individually they seem rather harmless. Two of them, put together cause many great concern. The totality of them together, spoken of free will should provoke feelings of patriotism and love of country. Yet, they seem destined to cause continued controversy in this wonderful country of ours.
Recently, the town I live in, Sioux Falls, South Dakota, has come under national scrutiny because of these thirty-one words. Before all this happened, the policy in this city was that grade school kids would say the Pledge each morning. There was no policy to require Middle School kids to do it, but they were doing it. High school kids have not done it for a very long time.
Veterans had come before the school board and made a request that high school kids be required to say the Pledge. The school board voted and declined to make this a requirement. However, this was misreported, not just at a city level, but at a national one. The report that had been given was that they changed the rule and that high school kids were no longer being required to say the Pledge. This is not true. They never were required to begin with.
The national news that picked this up and continued to misrepresent it at first was Fox News. Now, I’m a conservative and I have watched Fox News off and on. I tend to be dubious when liberals say Fox News is nothing but lies. However, in all fairness, Fox News screwed up. They ended up admitting this later on, but not before the damage was done.
What happened? Well, apparently there were many people who are so patriotic and upset about the fact that the high school kids aren’t being forced to say a Pledge, they contacted members of the school board anonymously and issued death threats to them. I say patriotic with a sense of sarcasm. There is nothing patriotic with the issuing of death threats against people you disagree with. None. No excuse for it. There is nothing that can be said that will make me think otherwise.
I’ve been giving this whole Pledge controversy some thought this week. I personally, have no objection to the pledge. Both my kids grew up in this school system and have said it every day while they were in grade school and middle school. I think that’s fine. I don’t object to it and I don’t object to the words “under God” in it either.
I also don’t object to not forcing the high school kids to do so either. Since all this happened, the school system has done a survey and it appears a majority of the people who responded said they’d like to have high school kids say the Pledge. Ok, fine, I don’t object to that either. As long as it isn’t forced upon them.
Here’s where I tend to stray in my personal beliefs and some of hard core conservative or religious people. We live in a huge melting pot of a society. We are one of the few countries that has a wide variety of races, religious beliefs, etc interacting with each other on a daily basis. Because of that, we have to be very careful about imposing what seems like a good thing to us for religious or other reasons that may violate another person’s perception of those same beliefs.
We have atheists in this country people. It’s a fact. There are people who don’t believe in God. I am saddened by this, I personally don’t understand how you can look at the beauty of this world and not see the hand of God in it, but it’s a fact. People don’t believe in Him.
We have people who do believe in Him, but in a different way than you might. We have people, such as the Jehovah’s Witnesses, who find it a violation of their beliefs to pledge allegiance to anything other than God. It’s a different belief. I don’t share it, but I can certainly respect it.
For this country to work, we have to be understanding of those differences. I am constantly amazed by the people who think that we should put God into our schools. I ask them, “Which one?” and since most people I know are Christian, I get, “The only one. God.” (For the record, I also believe He’s the only one.) I follow that with, “Ok, say we then ignore all the people who don’t believe, or believe in Buddha, or Mohammed or those other Gods, which Christian faith do we bring in? Catholicism? Baptist? Pentecostal? Jehovah’s Witness? Mormon?”
Most of the time, there isn’t a good answer to that. I might occasionally get a “Well, all of them,” at which point I would argue that the school’s job is not to teach about every religion. That’s not its place. That should be done at home.
But ultimately, I am perfectly fine with religion being kept out of public schools. It enables us to teach non-spiritual things in a manner that prevents an imposition of one or more people’s beliefs on others that simply do not share it.
The Pledge, while not exactly the same, is similar. The Pledge, at its core, is simply about being a united group of people, pledging their allegiance to the flag and what it stands for. That I stand firmly behind. The phrase “under God” does not overtly concern me in this context, there’s more to those two words than “imposing faith” onto someone as some believe.
So, I would be fine with making time for the Pledge. But only, if those who have an objection to saying it are allowed to refrain from doing so. In fact, the Supreme Court has even ruled on this, and they have stated we can’t force anyone to say this Pledge. But making time for it for those who want to is something I would not object to.
What I do object to though is the level of hate that was brought towards people who don’t agree with the idea of having the Pledge in the high school. Their behavior was un-American. If you don’t like a decision being made, find a legitimate way to fight it. Issuing death threats from behind the anonymity of a telephone is not only un-American, it’s cowardly.
The last seven words of the Pledge state: “indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” As the years go by, the word “indivisible” has been sorely tested in this country. We are more and more a divided nation. But those last six words have for the most part still rung true. Liberty and justice for all, in a country of such varied beliefs can only come through an understanding of each other and NOT by the level of hate seen in my city the last few weeks.
We can do better than that. Sioux Falls is a phenomenal city and a typical American one. Let’s not let the cowardly behavior of a select few divide us and take away liberty and justice for everyone.