When this writer lived in England for over five years, I heard a lot of American jokes. One of these jokes, apparently, was to ask me if I could recite the Pledge of Allegiance. While I started, with the hand over the heart like I’d been taught at school, they’d knuckle over in a fit of laughter. Later on, in the summer of 2008, Britain shouted down a “British Pledge of Allegiance” for their schoolchildren because they “didn’t want to sound like Americans” (according to a report in “The Philadelphia Inquirer”).
The Joke Is On the US
If you get out of the American mind-set and look at a classroom full of kids reciting the Pledge of Allegiance to the American Flag, it does look really silly. First off, most people don’t even know what half of the words mean. Many kids don’t pronounce them right and have no idea what they mean from the actions of the adults. They also don’t realize that they are making a pledge to a flag and not to anything else. Besides, what’s the point of making kids memorize yet another thing? Since when do kids ever pay attention to their teachers?
The Pledge of Allegiance sounds hypocritical to many non-Americans because every day the US government says one thing every day and yet does the opposite. This is not a new phenomenon. This happened before the Pledge of Allgiance was even penned.
One Nation Under God?
The original version of the Pledge of Allegiance did not include the phrase “one nation under God.” That was added in the 1955. Anyway, America is supposed to have freedom of religion. It’s one of the things we crow about. And yet we have the “one nation under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance. Not everyone in America believes in God or believes in just one God. So, there, we’ve already proven to be hypocritical, by very explicitly ignoring the beliefs of pantheists, Hindus, Pagans, atheists and dozens of other religions.
Perhaps at one time the Pledge made sense because all citizens professed to worship a God. But now, it just sounds like an outdated poem and very much like a King James Bible verse – very pretty on the ear, but mostly incomprehensible and reprehensible.
But Wait – There’s More
This phrase, “with liberty and justice for all” is the real punch line for my old friends back in England. Being part Native American, I am acutely aware that there is no such thing as “liberty and justice for all” in America. Just ask any Native American. While our founding fathers were writing poetry and filling their bank accounts, they committed systematic and blatant genocide on the Native American tribes, the rightful owners of the America.
Let’s stop reciting pretty words and actually try to fulfill the promise of the Pledge. America’s actions are so loud that no one else in the world can hear what we’re saying.