With Liberty and Justice for, like, 82% of You

I love America. Let me say that outright. Very few other countries have as much diversity as we do. My dad fought in Vietnam and Desert Storm. I support our military troops. They go out fighting to protect us and they do it even if the reasons are not always clear to them. Every Fourth of July I dress up for work. Well, I have a staff shirt , but accessorizing is considered dressing up for me. I know the words to the “Star Spangled Banner” and I’m no stranger to firearms. Plus it’s one of the greatest countries to get ethnic food outside of the respective country. I don’t know what I would do if I did not live down the street from a King Taco. But I’m not stupid. We’re technically still a young country compared to our more “sophisticated” European counterparts. America is, like, 21 in country years. We have an underdeveloped prefrontal cortex, so our decisions may not be well thought out. We still love sleeping all day, getting drunk, and doing stupid things like wreaking havoc on other people’s property. It comes with youth but what sometimes also comes with it is an inability to understand why someone doesn’t feel the same way you do about certain topics. More common is a refusal to understand.

The other day I felt the need to unfriend someone on Facebook. In today’s standards that’s how you disown someone. I didn’t want to go that far, so I just unfollowed her feed. I feel like this makes me a total b- but I had to for the sake of my health, but more importantly hers. She is a young lady, younger than I am, married a military man at 20, kid at 22, stay-at-home mom, went to Bible college. I don’t mind her choice. Some things aren’t for certain people. Like bell bottom jeans or tuna fish sandwiches with milk (which sounds delicious right now). But some things she posts, I feel, showed her immaturity, or at least her adamancy to ignorance. I once got into a debate with her over a picture she shared about all the “evil” quotes in the Qur’an. I won’t go into details. That will be for another day. What finally got me was one of her latest posts about the release some kids had to sign so they could participate in the Pledge of Allegiance. Her caption read, “OH. MY. GOSH. 😑😑😑 This is ridiculous. You don’t like the Pledge of Allegiance, why live in this country then?”

I stopped and decided I should distance myself. Arguing rarely ends well for me. I could think of plenty of reasons why someone would not want to recite the Pledge. The most prominent one being religious reason. For example, Jehovah Witnesses. Pledging allegiance to something other than God is not how they roll. Some people don’t know this, but at least 2,500 Jehovah Witnesses died as a result of World War II. Significantly less than the Jewish community, of course. But the reason why JWs were even killed in the first place? They refused to pledge allegiance to Hitler. Arguing with her, though, would not have help. If that upset her, fine.

Her Pledge post came just before the Colin Kaepernick thing. If you’re like me and don’t pay attention to anything unless your bf sends you a text saying how disappointed he is, Colin Kaepernick is a football player who did not stand for the Pledge of Allegiance, stating that he will not, “stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.” A bit of research brought up some logical reasons why we should say it: people died for our freedoms, it’s a part of history, and overall it’s showing respect for what the country gives us. Fair point, but if a guy does a million and one nice things for a girl, is she obligated to have sex with him? Yeah, I went there.

I get people’s disappointment. I understand the anger. It’s the expectation that you had of someone and then they do something with which you disagree. It’s the frustration of not having control. However, those are the times when you need to step back and think about it from a different perspective. There are countries out there that persecute their citizens for not conforming to their standards. For those who are outraged that we do not force everyone recite the Pledge, shouldn’t we be happy that we live in a country where people can decline saying the Pledge if they choose without fear of oppression? But it looks as if that’s not true. Our soldiers are supposedly out there fighting for the freedom of others and yet those same super-American fun-time people whom support those freedom-granting wars hate those who exercise their own.

What is happening? I don’t remember American ever being this bad growing up. I must have been blind or oblivious. We were never “great,” but we were okay. I thought towards the late 90s that we had gotten over most of our biggest issues and that, much like optimistic youths in their twenties, our lives would get better in quality. Then, I don’t know, things started getting worse after 2011. Job markets crashed, police officers got worse, people started rioting, everyone started hating everyone, then all the racists and self-proclaimed patriots in America came out from underground and decided it was okay to hate everyone who did not fit their definition of American.

Let’s face it. The Pledge of Allegiance is kind of creepy if you’re an outsider. Personally, I’m fine with the Pledge of Allegiance. To me it’s just some chant like the Girl Scout Promise or an alma mater or YOLO. Remember, we’re not the greatest country, but we’re certainly not the worst place in the world. But when you really think about it, if the country can disintegrate over something as dumb as not saying a pledge, then we really aren’t “indivisible.” And if people are demanding blood from Kaepernick then it isn’t really liberty for all.

What are your thoughts on the Pledge of Allegiance? Should people have a right to refuse? Where do you draw the line between freedom of beliefs and just being ungrateful? Share your thoughts below. And as always, please be respectful.

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