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Pledge of Allegiance

Posted on 2012.01.30 at 07:10
Current Location: 67114
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Its interesting to inspect that which unearths from a process of critical thinking. One of my weaknesses (strengths) is my inability to apply logic to only a single instance without further applying it across the board. I was once told by a professional psychologist who awkwardly suffered from confirmation bias that the scientific method cannot be applied to everything.

Naturally, I disagreed with him.

Inspection of that which has been unearthed can lead to all sorts of confusing conclusions, both real and imagined, and it takes formidable constitution (those of us who require it - e.g. dentin probably only requires validity of the knowledge rather than quiet reflection upon it) to question our own core values should it to permeate that deep. And almost everything I touch eventually does.

My miserably disjointed Impermanence post (which I understand is a gem amongst the rough to the linear-thought crowd) touched on many things I needed to flesh-out at a later date. As there are many things yet left unsaid, I've saved these commentaries for an as-needed basis, which is currently allegiances.

I was thinking about Christ the other day. Or the Catholic church - I don't remember which - and the outpouring of sentiment against either Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code or J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter (very likely both) at the time of their release, and I got to thinking about all that fear. So much unmitigated fear. There's healthy fear - that which triggers our fight-or-fight response and creates in us an ability to become hyper-aware. But that's not what this feels like. This feels like hysteria. Phobia. The wrong kind of fear.

As I was contemplating Christ, or the Catholic church - I don't remember which - I was struck with how Old Testament fear is a dumb way to motivate your flock. Especially given mankind's penchant for instant gratification at the very reasonable price of an irresponsible future. Fire and brimstone sucks today - but if it means I can bang hot chicks now and suffer that shit later, sign me up! No, what should work best is freely sharing knowledge for a hope of understanding. Solid, repeatable, metrics as to why following specific deities or religions are advantageous over others. Not fear. Not unprovable threats of missing out on everlasting life.

When I was attending the Worldwide Church of God it was never suggested that we spend some time with other religions to see if would be a better fit. Why? Because ours was the true Christian church. All other Christians were going to be cast into the Lake of Fire during the Third Resurrection. Seeking salvation elsewhere was blasphemous treason against the Kingdom of God. In reality, the church survived on tithes and could not afford to lose membership. Fear.

I'd suggested that only by contemplating, contrasting and comparing contrary ideologies would you truly believe in something with all your heart, and more importantly, all your mind. Its difficult to stand up for something you believe in when you don't know why you believe in it. Which, because I had used the word allegiance, made me wonder if what I'd said was also applicable to one's sovereignty.

Its been many years since I've been released from my vow to defend this Nation with my life:

"I, Eric Howton, do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God."

Yet while I found recanting the divinity of Christ earth-shattering to the "pre-current-me", I'm finding the same logic behind pledging allegiance to this nation - my nation - even moreso. Why is that?

When I was growing up we still had to recite the Pledge of Allegiance in school - something we no longer have to do. And while the words "Under God" were added by President Eisenhower in 1954, one thing which wasn't forced upon us children outside the home was daily prayer. American flags lined the street during the more patriotic holidays, less so scenes of Christianity outside the odd Nativity scene or "HE IS RISEN" signs during the pagan Vernal Equinox. We've been indoctrinated to be Americans since a very early age, and as a nation of religious freedom, more aggressively.

But this is okay, right? Absolutely! Unless you're North Korean, for example. Better to understand how your ideology works and compares to others and given the freedom to choose, for only then it is truly freedom. That being said, I have lived amongst other ideologies, and for those who get bent out of shape over the differences in the Democrats view of our nation versus the Republican view, I mock you openly, for I have seen Democracy versus Socialism, and Communism and there is no comparison. I do not give my allegiance to the United Sates freely anymore, rather it has been earned.

I wonder what other things in my life I will find suffer or thrive from blind vows of permanence?


jobu121 at 2012-01-30 13:59 (UTC) (Link)
Very well said my friend. I too recall reciting the pledge of allegiance in school, and hell it was California. Plus back then my mother allowed the school to paddle my arse if needed. Oh how times have changed.

You are correct, growing up there were less Nativity scenes and more Santa Clause north pole scenes at Christmas. We would go to a Christmas eve service at our church - we are Baptist so now midnight mass for us.
In addition, as a child I do recall the pastor spouting Fire and Brimstone type sermons. Then we would cover the New Testament. Confused child was I, ok so in the beginning God was mad as hell. Having certain individuals figuratively walk through Hell to prove their faith. In addition, taking away their worldly possessions. Then in the New Testament he was a calm forgiving loving God. Which in my prepubescence age confused the hell out of me.

And yes I recall stating the vow to defend this Nation with my life. And you are correct, it has been earned.

Well written and thought provoking.
suzanne1945 at 2012-01-30 15:14 (UTC) (Link)
Your discussion of saying the Pledge of Allegiance in school brought to mind an incident when I was teaching in an upper middle class elementary school in Las Vegas. Every morning we were required to recite the Pledge. Now, students could opt out, but none the less it was required that this performance take place daily followed by a moment of silence (there to appease those who wanted school prayer). But on Fridays, it was required that the school song be sung (music coming over the intercom). One of my students, (2nd generation Chinese-American, very bright, usually quiet, and compliant) did not sing. Okay, but when the next Friday rolled around and about half the class was not singing, I had to ask why he and the half weren't participating. The answer I got was,"It's dumb." This was something I had thought all along. So I told him I agreed, but could he help me out here as I was required to do this. No more problems. So the point of this is, sometimes even 9 year olds can see that blind allegiance is stupid.

Edited at 2012-01-30 03:51 pm (UTC)
michelle1963 at 2012-01-30 23:28 (UTC) (Link)
I would add that not only does allegiance have to be earned, it has to be earned continually.

I, too, gladly give my allegiance to our nation. Or perhaps I should more accurately state, I give my allegiance to the principles on which the nation is founded. But were America to wander down the path toward say, Nazi-ism, as a very Democratic Germany once did, I would have to retract that allegiance. Hence the premise "continually earned." Fortunately, except for some consternation regarding the Patriot Act, I have found little that makes me fear that our nation is going to separate itself from its founding principles anytime soon.

But we can take the premise of "continually earned" down to more mediocre subjects as well. Consider friendship for example. I have made friends and I have had friends fade away due to life taking us in different directions - partings where respect and allegiance were still present. However, there has been twice in my life that I've severed contact with people I once called friends, because their behavior no longer warranted my allegiance (or respect). They became very different from whom I'd formed the initial friendship. In both cases there was a pattern of behavior, an evolving approach to life that simply made my continuing allegiance impossible.
michelle1963 at 2012-01-31 00:04 (UTC) (Link)
Fear is a strong emotion to overcome. Some are never able to set fear aside in order to thoroughly evaluate their allegiances. As an example:

Unlike your parents, my parents did not bring me up with any religious ideas. If I wanted to attend church with a friend or read a book on Buddhism, it was all cool.

When I was about 17 years old, I really struggled with the idea of adopting Christianity. (I can't now remember what prompted it.) I remember finding the promise of everlasting life alluring (fear of death). I remember thinking it would be nice to fit into an established group condoned by society (fear of not belonging). And as a person who grew up without any religious indoctrination and not really missing it, I had to wonder if maybe all those Christians knew something I didn't, and I'd be facing eternity in hell for not believing (fear of punishment).

I ultimately discovered that, for me, fear was not a good reason to hold a particular belief. I don't mean to say that everyone who has adopted Christianity is motivated by fear. However, I do want to make a point that there can be a lot of fear attached to not believing.

In any case, as a result of my struggle, while far from being a New Testament scholar, I did become familiar with the philosophical lessons presented therein. My life is the richer for it.

pcofwildthings at 2012-01-31 16:27 (UTC) (Link)
This brings to mind the two programs I watched this past weekend on the Nat Geo Channel about the Amish "Rumspringa," where 16-year-old Amish youth are encouraged to experiment and explore before they make the decision to join the Amish Church and way of life. One of the programs focused on a lot of the partying that goes on during this time, as with just about anybody in that age bracket, and not so much the exploration of alternative ideologies.

I got to thinking, wouldn't it be interesting to have something like that at, say, age 35 or 40? I mean, we talk about things like quarter-year and midlife crises negatively, but what if there were a midlife "Rumspringa" that was encouraged and supported?
ehowton at 2012-01-31 16:35 (UTC) (Link)
My wife rumspringaed when she turned 40. I was shocked and amazed. I think she's still living down some of her antics :)
michelle1963 at 2012-01-31 16:44 (UTC) (Link)
Awesome idea, pcofwildthings! People focus on the stages of development through childhood, but then act as if we are fully formed adults who will remain ever the same after that magic age of 18. It seems to me you've hit on something with the acknowledgement that a restlessness occurs ~ perhaps a growth spurt if you will ~ at other times in life. In fact these occur with such regularity at 35 - 40 in so many we've named it: midlife crises. But why does this have to have a negative connotation?
ehowton at 2012-01-31 16:48 (UTC) (Link)
No doubt, love, but as long as people are still having promiscuous sex with many anonymous partners without protection while at the same time experimenting with mind-expanding drugs in a consequence-free environment, I'll be sound as a pound! ~ Austin Powers, after being told "A lot has changed" since 1967...
michelle1963 at 2012-01-31 17:01 (UTC) (Link)
LOL! That said, one can still explore, question, re-evaluate without being totally irresponsible. It's not that black or white. :p
codekitten at 2012-02-01 17:18 (UTC) (Link)
damn! that's a great idea!
ehowton at 2012-02-01 17:44 (UTC) (Link)
My wife told me yesterday she's going to rumspringa again when she turns 60.
codekitten at 2012-02-01 17:46 (UTC) (Link)
i think i'm going to vote for an "every 5 years" cycle for myself! ;)
ehowton at 2012-02-01 17:54 (UTC) (Link)
Hedonist! But seriously, I've found that by interjecting occasionally innocuous rumspringa-esque behavior/party-favors into my daily life it helps sate my voracious id thus lessening the urge to "break free."
codekitten at 2012-02-01 18:16 (UTC) (Link)
hmmmm....i say i should get one initial crazy RUMSPRINGA!!!! and then back into the more innocuous daily indulgences. yeah, i'm voting for that!

but seriously you're right, sprinkling some more into my daily life would lessen the urge considerably. damn that id!
michelle1963 at 2012-02-01 23:50 (UTC) (Link)
Do you want help with that? ;-)
ehowton at 2012-02-01 23:58 (UTC) (Link)
That sounds hot.
michelle1963 at 2012-02-02 14:27 (UTC) (Link)
*eye roll*
codekitten at 2012-02-02 12:43 (UTC) (Link)
YES PLEASE!!!!!!!!!!!!! :D
michelle1963 at 2012-02-02 14:29 (UTC) (Link)
We need to plan! *snicker*

(It occurs to me that it may be a good thing you live halfway across the country from me. We could be..., dangerous.)
codekitten at 2012-02-03 09:58 (UTC) (Link)
You said you 'n' me was gonna get out of town and for once just really let our hair down. Well darlin', look out 'cause my hair is comin' down!
michelle1963 at 2012-02-03 14:23 (UTC) (Link)
I love it!
michelle1963 at 2012-02-01 17:52 (UTC) (Link)
Having never rumpspringa'd before, I need to put it at the top of my do to list. ;-)

Or maybe I'm looking at it wrong. Perhaps my whole life has been one big rumspringa. It bears contemplation.
ehowton at 2012-02-01 17:56 (UTC) (Link)
I'll vote for what's behind door #2.
michelle1963 at 2012-02-01 18:01 (UTC) (Link)
Yes, after I wrote door #1, I realized that when opportunities presented themselves, I hadn't really denied myself of any experience that I truly wanted. I hardly feel deprived.
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