Aug. 22nd, 2012

starfire11: (Default)
So a friend of my mom's (who is sort of now my friend because of one of the most awkward dinners of my life - have I mentioned that I have been traumatized for life by spending any length of time with my mother's second husband?) posted something about the pledge of allegiance.

The pledge of allegience is one of those old issues that are still problems that we're trying to iron out in court, like gay marriage and teaching evolution and creationism in schools and flag burning (yes, it's been decided on but it's still a problem people like to argue about), euthanasia, and so on. Except it gets much less limelight because... reasons.

Like literally. That's why. Reasons.

I'd say that a big reason it's not as big of an issue as other things because, well... it doesn't really impact anyone's life. You have a right to not say it. It's very unlikely anyone will notice or care. If you get it wrong, no one is going to jump out of the ceiling and whack you on the head with an "I Want You" Uncle Sam poster.

I was going to say it's like a dumb pedestrian. People think that cars will run into some invisible wall to stop them from getting run over, so they don't look before they cross streets. Except this doesn't happen. Drivers have to be watch, or someone gets hurt and dies. Or no one gets hurt and there's just a lot of paperwork and happyish attorneys.

Except that's a bad analogy so... no. Not really.

The point is that it's not going to affect your life like someone advocating gay marriage to obtain the right to marry any adult of their preference (and the other person's presence, I would assume). Contrary to what some people (like this weird dude who commented on her post) think, it's also not as well-known a problem as flag-burning. Flag-burning is almost the law equivalent of Independence Day. It's a patriotism-related holiday most Americans are familiar with but don't know all that much about, really. Why? Because the flag is iconic. The pledge of allegiance is not.

While I'm undoubtedly biased here, I've had this discussion before with a number of people, and people have shared similar comments, so this isn't a unique case.

I have attended two Elementary Schools. The first was in the first town I lived in, in Texas.. Then I moved in 1st grade to Virginia and attended my second Elementary School, passing 1st-6th grade, and then moving on to Middle School and so on.

In the mornings back at my first ES, we would get morning announcements on the class television. We would sing the song of the month, the school song, and the Star Spangled Banner. Then I think we heard the weather and the lunch menu, like other schools. I honestly cannot recall much about them other than us singing. I remember that every month we learned the new song in singing class (or whatever it was) beforehand so we would be ready for the new month. I also recall our little song folders where we kept all of these things. I really wish I knew where that got to, because the only songs I remember from it are the school song and Rocking Around the Christmas Tree (oh joy). We had some neat songs in there. Also some poem about being yourself that was rather nice. I think it was by Robert Frost.

And then we moved to VA, and I had no idea how anything worked. The other students were already reading chapter books (I didn't know how to read), the library was all different (they were finishing their process of computer conversion cataloguing, while my original ES hadn't even started), they were learning computer games, which I'd never used before. I can't recall using a computer before I moved to VA. They had a school orchestra and patrols. There were Koreans and black students and it was... kind of overwhelming. Heck, there were other JEWISH kids! That was just whacked out!

Did I mention that I am really grateful that I did not grow up in that place where I spent most of my first six years of life? Many regrets as I have now, with who I am, it speaks volumes that I DREAD the person I might have been, had we never moved out of there.

First days are big. On the first day I didn't know any of my fellow students, who were already good friends with each other. Most of them had been together through preschool and kindergarten. I was an outsider for years because I hadn't been with these people through that extra two and a half years. I couldn't read - I was already behind most everyone. I didn't know any procedures for going anywhere or where everything was.

I don't know if I came in at the beginning of the day on my first day. In fact, I don't remember getting an introduction to the class. I don't recall us doing that. I think I was just there and that was how things went. I remember that I was too shy to hug my mother in front of my teacher when prompted before she left for work after dropping me off. I remember not knowing what the heck those white Thursday folders (the bane of my existance for many years to come) were for.

But either that day or the next, I remember standing up with all the other students when the morning announcements came on, and becoming nervous because I didn't know what we were going to sing.

And then everyone spoke together. There was a scrolling script on the screen. This was the procedure for as long as I can remember, and I can only assume that I didn't pick up on that at the time because I couldn't read well yet. I'm assuming I learned songs by ear before... hmm... An interesting conundrum, because I remember all of the words to my old school song, as well as Rock Around the Christmas Tree. Whatever.

I was deeply confused. No one was giving cues. We weren't singing. I couldn't understand what people were saying. I didn't know what it was about. People gave me funny looks when I asked about it.

So I learned how to read. I learned the pledge. I spoke along with everyone else. I knew it by heart after a short while and could say it with my eyes closed and half-asleep, with my head on my desk. I read the prompter when I was bored.

People have many issues with the pledge. I suppose it's "The Pledge", not just "pledge". But whatever.

- Why exactly do we have to swear allegiance? Isn't that like Nazy Germany and the Soviet Union?
- Is our loyalty being questioned? What if someone doesn't say it? Could they be arrested? Should they be?
- What's "indivisible" mean anyway?
- I thought America was a democracy, not a republic. What is this, Rome?
- Why are we pledging allegiance to a FLAG? What does a piece of cloth care?
- That "liberty and justice for all" line is full of crap.
- "Under god" is offensive to anyone who isn't Christian or monotheistic.

And so on. Then there is the wide opposition to these and other problems. People who like declaring their belief in God every morning and how everyone else is godless. How the "Under God" applies to many people, and you don't have to believe to say it. Plus, you don't HAVE to say it. Just be silent during it and quit whining about it!

There were (and are) people who protested the "moment of silence" many insititutions added to the morning announcements after 9/11. Some of those reasons involved fears of increased militarism. A questioning of religious beliefs (although I don't know which religious denominatin it was supposed to be from - I'm guessing just Christian in general, since that's where so much of this comes from).

I don't miss saying the pledge every morning. That might also be another reason it's not an important issue. College students, one of the more active political bodies in our nation, don't typically say the pledge. We don't have morning announcements or stuff like that (unless you're on a military campus), what with classes occuring at all hours of the day and the assortment of students and such. Why make all students on an international-accepting campus say the pledge? Or ask them to? So we aren't aware of it. Probably even forget about it. So we don't bring it up. We're too busy trying to change the economy and push gay marriage to bother with something little kids do every morning.

And I do find the Pledge offensive for a number of reasons. Do I support getting rid of it? No. Changing it? Yeah, if the opportunity presented itself. I'd rather look into other things, like kicking the truly crazy and frightening people out of office that are in office and stopping other crazy people from taking their place and actually getting some sanity and intelligence in there so we can actually solve problems instead of creating more.

Among other things, I think that the "Under God" line is outdated. Yes, this country was founded at least partially on people fleeing religious persecution. But not everyone here believes in God or some god or some other people. People have varied beliefs. Unfortunately, we live in a country where the people with the biggest sway have the most money and are more insane than intelligent and believe that God intercedes and stops a woman from becoming pregnant in a rape case and that America is the greatest country on Earth. I don't know why. They never offer real reasons why. They just say these things and I'm left rolling my eyes. People ask me WHY I spend more time in my books than the real world. Just LOOK at the "real world".

You know, this was invented just after the Civil War. There's more than one reason for why it was kept and used.

What I principally didn't like was this person saying that "most" people find the pledge offensive, without offering numbers or anything. "Most" is arguable. A lot of people like the pledge just the way it is. A lot of people could care less. A lot of people, like a young six-year-old I knew once, had never heard of the thing before. A lot of people don't like it because it's offensive for different reasons. Some people don't like the government making us do something like this. Some people think it reminds them of Nazi Germany and the hail Hitler thing or other crazy regimes where they have salutes and swearing loyalty and such. Some people, like my Civics and Chemistry teachers, just want to get on with the day without Morning Announcements chewing up fifteen-twenty-five minutes of class time.

The Pledge is a hot issue. The major consensus that I know of now is that it can stay if the school wants it. If someone objects to it, they may remain silent, seated, or even leave the classroom for the duration. They can also formally complain. Of course, opening up Pledge dicussion also opens up the evolution and creationism discussion, along with prayer in public schools, dress codes, diversity expectance, teacher bias, and many, many other hot issues.

Night. Morning. Whatever.


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