"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."
I've been thinking a lot about America lately and what it means to me. I've said the Pledge of Allegiance truly countless times over my life. I've proudly displayed the flag that stands for one indivisible nation under God. I've taken my responsibility very seriously to teach school children and scouts the great heritage of this country and the meaning of and history behind the flag, national anthem, and Pledge.
I've considered myself a patriot, grateful for the freedoms we enjoy, honored by the sacrifices of the many who have served our country and even died for it. I have done my best to teach the next generation to love their country.
But the times, they are a-changing. There's a tumult in America that can't be ignored. This doesn't feel like the "land that I love" anymore. If I pledge my heart and my loyalty to someone or something, I need to mean it, or I shouldn't say it.
So I am asking myself the hard question: When I say the Pledge of Allegiance, what exactly am I swearing my loyalty to?
- Not the police who practice brutality instead of following due process
- Not people who believe that some lives matter more than others or who create an environment of terror by retaliating against those sworn to protect us
- Not a broken two-party political system
- Not the unrelenting campaign to secularize America and strip away its underpinning moral values
- Not an electoral college that discounts my vote since I live in an "unimportant" small state
- Not a 2016 presidential election where my only choices are a candidate who is a delusional bully and another who is a lying crook
- Not those who shout that "some are more equal than others," and their beliefs are more important than others' freedom of religion
- Not elected officials who refuse to perform their lawful duties, including those who deny nominations of Supreme Court justices just because it's an election year
- Not endless, meaningless wars in the Middle East
- Not a country where mass killings are so common anymore that they often don't even make the front page
- Not a congress who is so divided it's deadlocked, who is quick to shut down the country instead of resolving issues, where officials are more concerned about covering themselves and getting reelected than making the difference they were elected to do
- Not the zillions of dollars in debt that citizens have been saddled with
- Not a country where there's so much senseless mob violence--even just over a sports game--that the teams have to play in an empty stadium to avoid the city being destroyed
- Not a land where our freedom of expression is denied, and the only allowable "truth" is what's defined and sanctioned by the government
So if that's what I don't believe in, where is the America that I have loved? Does it even exist anymore?
I'll be honest. It causes me great turmoil to say I don't know if I can pledge allegiance to what America stands for now. So, here's my "title of liberty"--similar to what an ancient prophet said when making his declaration--of what I can pledge.
I pledge allegiance to:
It pains me to witness the collapse of my once-wonderful country. I truly don't know if we can Make America Great Again unless there is a giant shift by all of us working together at once--like after 9-11, when so many of us felt unified as a nation. I pray that this once "sweet land of liberty" can rise from the dust. But if not, I know where my deeper allegiance lies.
- My religion and its leaders
- Our unalienable, God-given rights and constitutional freedoms
- My family
- The ideals behind America that our forefathers fought and died for: a land of liberty and justice for all
That is a pledge I can give with my whole heart.