Sunday, July 07, 2002

I am having such a good day! For starters, I was sick overnight. that automatically makes the daytime, when not ill, fabulous! Then, I finished Les Mis this morning. I was so happy when it all came together at the end, then I cried with JV died...then I hurried to church because I was on the verge of being late. The service was good this morning. this afternoon I met an Associate of the Iona Community who is in town as part of his sabbatical. Calum took us all to lunch, which was excellent.

Now, for what I've been thinking about today. This whole deal about the Pledge of Allegiance. Now, I never actually say the pledge anyway, because I believe in a global community, not in a specific entity known as a "country", and I do not pledge allegiance to inanimate objects such as flags. I prefer to think of myself as a citizen of God's country you can only imagine what i think of this whole "under God" debate. Today in the tribune there were several letters from people who have suggestions about this. One was to simply remove "under God," much as it was added 50 years ago. Another suggestion was to change it to "with faith"--with the idea that then everyone could say it in good conscience, taking "faith" to mean whatever they want (faith in God, in goodness, in morality, in society, in themselves, whatever). A third suggestion was "under good" which is nebulous and frankly probably untrue. Especially if you listen to the ultra conservative christians who believe that everything is evil and they are the only ones who are good. And also, to suggest that our politicians, under whom we actually live (from a practical standpoint, anyway) are good is perhaps beyond the capabilities of 99.678 percent of the population.
Here's my suggestion: leave it as is. Instead of fighting about this, why are we not feeding the children we are trying to protect from state-sponsored religion? Why aren't we making sure the teachers who lead them in the pledge are competent and have the resources to teach well? why are the politicians so excited to sing "God bless America" on the Capitol Building steps, to only show up for opening prayers when there's a patriotic crisis on, but never willing to pray for (or act on) wisdom in dealing with other countries? Why aren't we worrying about becoming a truly catholic (ie universal) community rather than protecting our own selfish national interests? So, i say to leave it. If you don't want to say it, don't. if you do, do. If you want to pledge your allegiance to the fabric of the flag and the socio-political fabric it stands for but don't approve of God watching over you and that fabric, then leave those two words out. Is this really such a hard concept? When will we stop arguing over the possibilities of "promoting" religion in schools and start simply accepting that we all need a good grounding in tolerance of other faith traditions, whether we have one or not, that we all need moral grounding and guidance, and that it's more important to allow people to express themselves than it is to repress expression? maybe if we had more tolerance for each other's religious beliefs, we'd have less crime, less delinquency, and fewer societal problems in general.
Now, I know what you first amendment pushers are thinking. "Keeping all reference to God out of state and school and wherever else we can is the way we create tolerance." I am sorry to tell you, I disagree. Tolerance does not equal repression. "tolerance" and "blocking out everything we don't like" are not the same. To create and foster tolerance and understanding requires exposure to different ideas, rather than only our own agendas. Did it ever occur to anyone that "God" is not simply God of the Christians, or God of the Jews? that God is the same...whether muslim or christian or hindu...that people's perceptions of God are what differ? So why can't we say "under God" and each be referring to the God we know? is that so far out there as a concept that it is beyond understanding? If so, perhaps public policy and procreation should also be avoided.
End of today's diatribe. check back tomorrow for more, perhaps on a new topic.

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