Society is the issue, not the Pledge mandate


Joe Bolewitz

Students stand for the national anthem at the Homecoming Pep Assembly. Standing like this is now commonplace at Adams in lieu of the Pledge of Allegiance mandate.

Because of the recent initiation of Acts 320 and 321 by the Michigan legislature, the Pledge of Allegiance is now playing on Adams school announcements.

The mandate, which was enacted in June of this year, states that students should be given the opportunity to recite the Pledge of Allegiance during the school day.  In addition, teachers must display a flag in their classrooms.

“Opportunity” is the key word here.   No one will be forced to say the Pledge; instead, people can if they want to.

“I don’t know, even though we don’t have to, that still sounds a little too totalitarian for me,” “’Under God?’  But I’m an atheist!” and “This is sooooo elementary school!” are the typical criticisms one could expect from the Adams student body.

Are these criticisms valid?  Maybe for some.  Is the mandate ludicrous?  Maybe not the mandate itself, but something else is.


In Need of a Wake-Up Call  


The initial purpose of the Pledge was not to evoke perfunctory and mindless recitation dedicated to our country among citizens (or, more specifically, induce boredom in the classrooms of American high school students), but rather to inspire a common unification and pride among Americans.  Today, the problem with the Pledge of Allegiance is not its religious connotations (“Under God”), or about any “threats” of an authoritative government regime, but rather our current society.

When we used to recite the Pledge of Allegiance during elementary school, we were also taught about diversity and our country’s cultural “melting pot.”   We were taught to respect our country’s military and authorities.

Turn on the news today.  We live in a United States of America where an American-Indian woman gets ignorantly insulted for being “an Arab” and crowned Miss America “near 9/11.”

We live in a United States of America where a former navy reservist kills 12 people at Navy Yard.

Perhaps the ignorance of childhood shields one from the optimism and contradictions that we were taught in elementary school regarding America. As a society, we’re narrow-minded and intolerant.   We’re prone to mindless acts of violence, even within our own military.

Our legislatures believe that reciting the Pledge of Allegiance will promote unification and loyalty, but will giving us the opportunity to recite the pledge really give us the cultural wake-up call that we desperately need?  How can we recite something that stands for pride in our country if our society is so ridden with double-standards, intolerance and ignorance?   Because of society today, the Pledge of Allegiance does not hold a meaningful and inspirational message as it used to, but is now a contradictory and hypocritical performance.

While the pledge is not technically mandatory, many may choose to recite it.

Is anyone planning on standing up, hand over their heart, each morning?  If yes, be the change and mean what you pledge.