Ahh, the Pledge of Allegiance. The refrain we've all been brainwashed into saying thousands of times over the course of our lives or memorizing it to become a citizen, saying it before many civic events. It's gotten so routine. It puts progressive politicians on the defensive though because conservatives make such a big deal about the inclusion of the word god... "one nation, under god". And gossipy insinuation of who won't say the pledge or who doesn't put their hand over their heart, it's become a lightning rod to a degree.
Frankly, I think god is not the point of the Pledge. "One nation"... yeah, we know that part. "... under god". Hmm, OK, which god? Christian, Islamic, Hindu, oh wait, they have more than one don't they? And what exactly does "under" mean? That god is floating on a cloud up in the air? That god is our ruler? That we are cared for by a benevolent god? Or is it an intentionally vague reference to appease all the various audiences who do believe in god? Or, like a lot of pledges and oaths, it invokes the person's faith who is taking the pledge in order to reinforce the commitments they are making?
Well, I think it's probably that last one. They are invoking faith to bind the person taking the pledge to the United States, this great place for stuff that people like. I wonder if the pledge reveals anything about what's so great about the United States that people should pledge their allegiance to the republic for which the flag stands?
Let's see.... "one nation, under god, indivisible". For indivisible, I suppose they're really asking us to pledge to do what we can to keep this contry united, right? Work together, treat each other well, fight for our common good? Maybe the next phrase in the pledge will help us understand?
Oh, yeah, "... with liberty and justice for all". Wow, I kind of like that. Liberty, freedom, liberation, libertarian, libations. Hmm, not so sure about that last one, but if you insist.... All those rights we care about in the Constitution, freedom to be who we are, express our cultures, religions, heritage, languages, beauty and love. Liberty... hmm, how we doing on that? Some people seem to be doing real well in the U.S. on the liberty front. It's almost like the whole system is geared towards providing a lot of liberty for those who can afford it. But if you work real hard-like, I suppose anyone can have a little liberty too.
Justice... hmm, that's something I have not been so familiar with lately. What do you think they meant by justice? Well, Fox News would have you believe that is certainly not inclusive of "social justice", because that's practically a dirty word. And economic justice? We let people in our society get insanely wealthy and control an increasingly disproportionate piece of the economic pie while more and more people slip from our once-strong middle class to poverty. Hmm, that doesn't seem too just.
What about the banksters that robbed our nation blind in the mortgage meltdown? Why haven't they been brought to "justice" for destabilizing our economy and indirectly causing such great suffering? Does this justice include those imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay? Or how about those who misled our nation into a war? Or tortured prisoners? Shouldn't they get some of this justice too for their crimes?
How about the gays & lesbians who can't get a fair share of benefits from their employers and government protections because their form of love is not built in the same way as the vast majority? Or the African American men who are so intensely over-policed and prosecuted in our war on drugs that basically amount to modern Jim Crow? Do they get Justice too?
Anyway, who who is it that this Pledge of Allegiance is pledging this justice and liberty for? Obviously its not everyone in our society, is it?
I think you know the answer, in your heart when you put your hand over it and speak those words. Even Dick Cheney must feel it in his cold, mechanical heart.... Liberty and justice for ALL. In big capital letters. ALL. Everyone. Men, women, old, young, light, dark, in-between ALL. Big, small, smart or slow, disabled, gay, straight, and transgendered ALL. Truckers, farmers, secretaries, teachers, doctors, dishwashers, police, politicians ALL. Mothers, daughters, fathers, brothers, sons, sisters, aunts, uncles, and even the cousins you don't want to invite to the wedding ALL. Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist, Catholic, Atheist, Wiccan ALL. Can there be any other ALL than ALL?
Well, that seems simple enough, right? We have ALL pledged, thousands of times since we were little kids in school, liberty and justice for ALL. So, I ask every one of you who have been annoyed how the conservative right has misused the pledge as a bizarre religious litmus test... Don't turn away from the Pledge of Allegiance. Feel it deep in your heart when you say those words, liberty and justice for all. Make it a litmus test of your own, as a basis to judge policy and politicians. Does this law or this politician bring liberty and justice for ALL? Or just for themselves and their campaign contributors? Or their political party? Or people of their faith?
If we don't take to heart the fullness of the word ALL in the pledge, then it doesn't much matter what god you are invoking when you say those words.... Jesus, Buddha, Allah, or Flying Spaghetti Monster.