Wednesday, January 12, 2005
  A man with no flag
I pledge allegiance to the Flag
of the United States of America,
and to the Republic for which it stands:
one Nation under God, indivisible,
with Liberty and Justice for all.
- Pledge of Allegiance
I remember a time, way back in some of my earliest living memories, when I resided with my mother in Dallas, Texas, in kindergarden. One day my teacher encouraged me to come up to the front of the class. As nervous as I probably was, she finally persuaded me to lead the class in taking the national pledge. So there I was, standing beside the American flag which stars and red and white stripes seemed to tower above me on that day, taking my first pledge ever as the class repeated each line after me. So much meaning behind the words...but of course, I was only 5 or 6.
"I Pledge Allegiance... - I Promise to be faithful and true (Promise my loyalty)."
I wonder how many people today say a national pledge, which I think are only mandatory to school students in most countries, and really mean those words, or even understand them for that matter. I remember when I was in secondary school in Singapore when taking the national pledge was just another morning routine before starting the long, humid day. It starts of with "We, the citizens of Singapore...", yet I am not a citizen of Singapore. Is there somewhat of an exclusion to foreigners or permanent residents living in the country? Mostly, it was a bunch of lines that school students would say half-heartedly because it was too damn early in the morning and the principal barking over the PA system didn't quite help either.
" the flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God.. - These 50 individual states are united as a single Republic under the divine providence of God, "our most powerful resource" (according to the words of President Eisenhower)"
One Nation under God. The word God lies within the American pledge, yet He has become the most controversial man in the country today. It seems like a war between the new-age aethists and the traditional christians. Yet, some people go to lengths to manipulate the name of God to justify their cause. Whether it is war, gay marriage or embryo stem cell cloning. President Eisenhower approved the addition of the words "under God" in the pledge in 1954 saying, "In this way we are reaffirming the transcendence of religious faith in America's heritage and future; in this way we shall constantly strengthen those spiritual weapons which forever will be our country's most powerful resource in peace and war." By that, I don't think he meant that we should use God's name to give just cause for war. Despite my belief that there should be a separation of religion and state in every democratic country, you cannot help but admit that America was built on christian values and heritage. God is meant to be there as a spiritual means of maintaining those moral values that America was built on. And also to be there in times of war. But not an influence on political decisions. The one mistake with countries that fuse religion and state is that often God's name is used to justify atrocities carried out in war. For a shared faith does not neccessarily equal a shared political decision. But to completely ignore God, what meaning is left when you take an oath "in the name of God" in court for example?
"Indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for All.. - Cannot be separated. This part of the original version of the pledge was written just 50 years after the beginning of the Civil War and demonstrates the unity sought in the years after that divisive period in American history. Liberty, the people of this nation being afforded the freedom to pursue "life, liberty and happiness"."
America couldn't be more divided now. Red States Blue States. Aethists and Christians. Pro war and anti war. I think that people really need to sit down and think about how they are breaking down the very essence of what makes their country, and why they were proud to be wherever they may be from to begin with. Despite the half-hearted morning anthem, Singaporeans are generally patriotic and never have I seen such unity on National Day than anywhere else. In the UK, I'm not sure if they even have a national celebration day. All the holidays seem to have something to do with banks, a saint, or fireworks. Even Christmas seems to have lost its meaning in this country that is slowly shifting towards an aethist state as the christian population declines.
While I personally feel like I fit nowhere, my country of citizenship despises me (another long story) and Singapore's political system was never quite to my liking, I do sometimes envy those who feel a true place of belonging. And that's why I sometimes think back to the early days, when times were so much less complicated and ignorance was bliss at an age of 6, just enjoying the feeling of being part of something great...standing in front of the new generation of countrymen leading them in the pledge for their flag.
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