Have you ever thought about the Pledge of Allegiance? I mean really thought about it. People all over the country say it all the time, usually without thinking about it. But where did it come from? Did George Washington write it on wet parchment as he courageously crossed the Delaware River? Did Abraham Lincoln dictate it as he lay dying from a fatal gunshot wound? Did some entrepreneur use the words of a socialist to market and sell American flags? You would think that finding out the origin of the pledge would be an important part of understanding it. And besides the origin, why do we say it?
Let me tell you what went on in my head when, for the first time ever, I decided to think about the words of the Pledge of Allegiance and decide whether I agreed with them or not.
"I pledge allegiance..."
I am promising to ally myself with something. Whatever it is that follows this part of the pledge, I am making a vow to follow and obey it, no matter what. I always want to keep my promises, so I had better be ready to actually make this sacred covenant.
"...to the Flag..."
WHAT?! A flag? Seriously? A piece of cloth? Flags don't do anything. They don't give out orders. If you want to follow a flag, you are actually following whoever is holding the flag. Well, what if I don't want to follow that guy? Just because he's holding a flag doesn't mean I agree with his intentions. This is already ridiculous.
"...of the United States of America..."
Okay, it's that flag. Got it. However, it is still just a flag. Everything I said above still applies.
"...and to the Republic for which it stands..."
I am pledging allegiance to a republic. Specifically, the republic that the flag represents. So I am pledging allegiance to the United States of America. Well, this part of the pledge is very unclear. Am I pledging allegiance to the government? To the people? To the land? I don't know! And even if I did know, each one of those possible answers is problematic. The government could conceivably change all the laws and then I would have to obey the new laws, no matter what. The people vary in their principles and actions so it would be impossible to ally myself with all of them. The land isn't really something that you can be loyal to, since it doesn't do anything by itself (kind of like a flag).
Why does it have to be only one nation? Is there some kind of universal law, like gravity, that demands that the United States forever be one nation? Did God Himself come down from the heavens and consecrate the borders of the United States and say, "Thou shalt add states and territories to the United States by any means necessary, but thou shalt never allow them to leave. Behold, secession is not cool."? There is absolutely no reason for me to make a solemn vow to do everything I can to keep the United States as one nation forever and ever (especially since that was never supposed to be the case in the first place).
Well, I don't mind living "under God" if that means following God's will as far as I understand it. I go to church and pay tithing and all that jazz, but I have a lot of friends in this country who don't believe in God. I don't agree with making an oath to make sure that everyone is living under God. That should be up to each individual.
The "one nation" nonsense makes an appearance yet again! We just went over this and it's silly.
"...with liberty and justice for all."
Now there's something I can get behind. I love liberty. I love justice. Those are two things I wish every person in the world could enjoy. But most of the content of the Pledge of Allegiance gets in the way of providing liberty and justice. So, perhaps the next time I am in a group that wants to recite the Pledge of Allegiance, I will say:
"I pledge allegiance to...[wait for it]...liberty and justice for all."
Edit: I felt compelled to add this video after becoming aware of it: