Friday, July 4, 2014

A Fourth-of-July Rant

What is it with the Pledge of Allegiance, anyway?  Why can't adults congregate in any capacity without everyone being asked to stand, place hands over hearts, and recite the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag?  Yet again.  As though they haven't pledged eighty-two thousand, four hundred, and ninety-seven times already?  Even naturalized citizens are only asked to swear an oath to the nation once.  We take them at their word the first time.  The Pledge of Allegiance is the only oath we are expected to take repeatedly.

Somehow, no one believes we meant it the last time we recited the Pledge of Allegiance.  No.  We have to repeat it - ad infinitum/ad nauseum - to prove our loyalty to this piece of cloth.   Democrats and Republicans alike stand at every meeting and recite it - as though terrified someone from the other party might be watching through the windows and will report our lack of patriotism in the local newspapers if we fail to, once again, mindlessly recite the words.

We've said the words so many times they don't even have meaning any longer.  We've recited it until we've cheapened it.  We've made it some kind of religious chant.  Especially with the words "under God" - inserted years after it was written: words which were supposed to banish the pinko commie boogie-man and which exclude non-believers who are just as patriotic as everyone else but who, now, cannot recite the Pledge without either leaving out the words or being a complete hypocrite.  But who cares about them, right?

And so we stand with hands over hearts - that organ that pumps blood and keeps us alive but cannot feel loyalty and cannot think at all - and say the words:

                 "I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the Fascist Oligarchy for which" .... er.... "and to the Republic..." (and if you can say THAT with a straight face you will win first prize of a little hand-held American flag on a chopstick that you can wave so all will see that you - YOU - are a great patriot.  (They will also check to be sure you are wearing a flag in your lapel or pinned to your motorcycle jacket.)

Yes.  We stand and recite the words - yet again - as though they somehow wore off since the last time we recited them.  As though we didn't mean it the first eighty-two thousand, four hundred, and ninety-seven times.  We recite the words while all over town there are flags flying unlit at night, faded from the sun, ripped to little shreds by the wind, and completely ignored by us as we hurry to the grocery store to pick up that loaf of bread.  And we pat ourselves on the backs for being such good patriots.

We mindlessly recite the words by rote with hands over that blood-pumping organ when the hand ought to be on our heads.  You know, that rock-hard shell that houses the only part of us capable of patriotism and loyalty - our brains.

Don't misunderstand.  The heart keeps us alive.  But it's the brain that forms our thoughts.  It's the brain that houses our emotions. You cannot live without your heart but you can, apparently, live without your brain.  We have a congress full of brain-dead people who prove my point.  But that's another rant.

We stand and we say the words over and over.  The young in school.  The middle-aged adults in meetings.  And even the old are expected to rise from comfortable chairs to stand on aching feet and joints to pledge again and again - or be ostracized and shunned as some kind of unpatriotic muslim terrorist out to destroy the great nation of the United States.

Don't believe me?  Try not standing next time.  Try just sitting there while everyone else, (without thinking, of course), rises like mindless automatons to go through the motions yet again.

I have pledged literally thousands of times in my long life.  I meant it almost every time.  I say "almost" because somewhere along the line my brain actually began to kick in and I asked myself, "Why am I doing this? I've already done it!  I did it.  I meant it.  And now I'm done.  And I don't have to prove my patriotism to anybody.  It's not a feakin' contest!"

If anyone doesn't believe I meant it, then it's their problem - not mine.  They can do whatever they like.  They can wear the flag - wave the flag - fly the flag.  But only they know if it actually means anything to them.  Only they know if they truly feel that patriotism or if they just use it as a bludgeon against those "others" - easily recognizable as they attempt to cross our borders for a better life - by blocking their path and screaming epithets and waving signs - and the flag - in their faces.

And so, thus endeth the Fourth-of-July rant.  Will you go away shooting daggers at me and those like me who have had enough of this insanity?  Will you go away with a new enemy?  Or will you go away with synapses lighting up new paths of actual productive thought about what it all actually means?  And next time you are asked to stand and - for the hundred thousandth time - recite the Pledge of Allegiance as though you forgot that you already did it - or didn't mean it the last time --, what will you do?  And why?

To quote a dear friend on these blogs:  Thanks for your time.

~ AngelMay ~


Brian Miller said...

eh, maybe if we said it less we would take its implications more seriously...

of course liberty and justice for all is an unattainable goal...

and we are quite a bit more divided than...


happy 4th.

AngelMay said...

Happy Fourth to you, Brian! I'm going for a bike ride on this beautiful day here in California - down a wonderful path that winds beside vineyards and a creek - cows and horses.... lovely! Wish you could join me.

Kathy G said...

Very thought-provoking. Thank you.

The Silver Fox said...

I'm remarkably lucky. I haven't had to recite the pledge since high school, IIRC.

"Thanks for your time." What a cool expression!