I pledge allegiance…


“‘I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of American and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

…My generation grew up reciting this every morning in school with my hand on my heart. They no longer do that for fear of offending someone!

Let’s see how many Americans will re-post and not care about offending someone!”

I have had several friends post this to Facebook recently. I have had others send me emails with something very similar. I am puzzled by the ideas being communicated. It seems that the person who originally wrote this was being deliberately offensive and bragging about it. Either he or she thinks all their friends agree with them and won’t be hurt by it, or perhaps they believe they are right and others who disagree deserve to be offended.

I don’t have a problem reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. I am part of the generation that stood straight and tall with my hand over my heart and recited this oath to the flag. I didn’t do it because I was more patriotic than someone else. I didn’t do it because I was patriotic at all or even because I believed in God. I hadn’t thought much about it. I was required to do it. At the time I didn’t consider that it might be offensive to someone else.

It never occurred to me that some devout Christians might see reciting an oath to something or someone other than God might be seen as idol worship. I didn’t know anyone who professed to being an atheist nor anyone who believed in a deity other than the God I worshiped. I don’t know if any of the other children in my class were citizens of another country. I only knew a few who couldn’t stand. I never imagined that someone would believe they should not be required by those in authority to pledge anything. My guess is that most of the people who required me to stand and pledge my allegiance were unaware of any possible objections to something that seemed so right and harmless. When I was growing up, many of us offended others in many ways by the words we used, access we denied, and stories we told. We used racial slurs without knowing how others were hurt by them. We talked about and treated people with handicaps in terrible ways. We didn’t realize how hurtful our actions and language were. No one can claim that kind of ignorance any more.

Yes, I was taught to recite the Pledge of Allegiance. I was also taught that being deliberately offensive was rude and unacceptable behavior. I was taught to be considerate of the feelings of those around me, just as I would have them be considerate of how I felt. I was taught to care for my neighbor, even if they are different from me. When I was growing up, political correctness was what we called being polite and considerate. Deliberately hurting someone else with our words or actions is not only “politically incorrect,” it is a form of bullying. It is wrong even in the anonymous, detached, impersonal world of the internet.

I don’t know who originally posted the above meme. It has been reposted a million or more times and the original poster’s identity has been lost. What is this person trying to communicate? I don’t understand being deliberately offensive or bragging about it. Does she or he feel superior because she or he is more patriotic than those who object to reciting the pledge? Does simply posting this make her or him more patriotic? Does the writer believe that God is on their side because they use His name to offend someone else? How is being deliberately offensive in line with the teachings of the Gospel of Jesus? To whom are the poster and writer referring as “they” and what groups does she or he think are offended by the pledge? Are others offended by this person’s reciting the Pledge of Allegiance or are they offended by the idea that everyone should be required to recite it without regard to their religious, philosophical, or moral beliefs?

If you posted this to Facebook or you emailed it to me as part of a mass email, I want you to know that I was offended, and, no, I did not pass it on. I was surprised that you posted this or emailed it, because I don’t think of you as rude or as a bully who would seek to be deliberately offensive. I will assume you hit the enter key before you thought carefully about it.
Copyright © 2013 Janet Jacobson and Sustaining the Northern Plains