The Pledge

So, I got another subbing job (for tomorrow) and I was wondering whether I might have to say The Pledge again. When I was observing elementary school, my hours were at the beginning of the day. The intercom announced that it was "time for the Pledge of Allegiance" - and, embarrassingly, the teacher had to prompt me to stand... It just didn't occur to me to. You see, I never, ever say The Pledge.

I can't really remember when I stopped saying it, but I think it was near the end of elementary school. Of course, I still know it. I just stopped saying it, because for some reason it always felt very strange to me.

As an adult, I explain (or rationalize, depending on your view) my aversion to the pledge as an example of absolute dogma. For some people, it is a pledge in word but not in deed. Worse, many people don't even think about it at all - not that there's a whole lot to think about. What exactly does pledging one's allegiance entail? What actions can you take to show your loyalty or patriotism? The Pledge doesn't go into that. It's just a pronouncement. We teach it to our children without explanation, and it is memorized without understanding or conviction. It's rote. If you don't agree, go watch The Pledge being recited at any local school in the beginning of the day.

Our country was founded by thinkers seeking change. When their contemporaries intoned, "God Save the King!", our forefathers asked, "Why?". Against this historical backdrop, the obligatory, unquestioning daily recital of The Pledge seems forced, insincere, and incongruous.

As for myself, I wouldn't say I'm exactly bursting with national pride, but I'm a content citizen. I vote, I pay my taxes, I don't write angry political commentary... I'm just a happy little cog who wants to be left alone and not forced to make empty political incantations to demonstrate my "American-ness".

You know why I think we say The Pledge? To homogenize. Or, at least, to give the appearance of homogenization. The Pledge is short and simple to learn, and reciting it is pretty much a stamp of Americanism. It is a quick and easy (although perhaps not terribly effective) way of imparting a basic sense of national identity on a very large and diverse group of people. Whether this is a good or bad idea is a matter of debate, but for me, it falls into the category of "A nice thought, but a little too much like brainwashing".