The Pledge

Several years ago, I dated this girl that seemed determined to hear me tell her that I loved her, every single day. As a young man I placed far more value on the reward than the power of words so, I went with it. Fun times, but I never considered or even cared why it was important to her. Granted, I know now and honestly, even knowing back then nothing would change much. I may have felt bad, but my mission was more important to me than her issues. That’s cold, but very much the reality of the world we live in. Everyone has demands that they levy upon someone for a mutually beneficial relationship, but compliance of the parties does not beget sincerity from either. 

human hands and us flag
Photo by Edgar Colomba on

The catalyst to that thought paragraph and this topic is that I’ve been researching schools in Texas. In doing my research I discovered that the schools there, well, at least 2 schools, require the kids to recite the Pledge of Allegiance to the United States as well as a little pledge of allegiance to Texas. In Chicago, we never pledged allegiance to the Illinois flag or the Chicago flag, so I think Texas is just being Texas as usual with this. I recall saying the real pledge pretty much every day in elementary school, but not at all from 7th thru 12th. I was too young to care why we needed to do this at all; I just knew we had to do it before we sat down. Drilling the words in day after day, while the kids never consider what it means or the implications of the words. 

The Origins

As an adult, I developed my own rationale for why this practice is around and necessary to some far more than others. That will obviously come out in later paragraphs, but for now, the book answer is to inspire patriotism. Shortly after the Civil War, Union Captain George T. Balch wanted to make sure everyone in the USA knew what was up. Immigration was on the rise, and they had just won a war against the CSA to re-establish the USA and he was hoping to wipe away any former allegiances by formally making kids say the pledge daily. That was way back in the late 1880’s. Texas on the other hand, introduced their pledge in the 1930’s…curious time to want to honor the “rich history” of Texas with a pledge to its ideals. That train of thought is a slight detour, so I’ll leave it alone for now, but once I officially move to Texas, it’s coming back, I’m sure.   

If a lie is only printed often enough, it becomes a quasi-truth, and if such a truth is repeated often enough, it becomes an article of belief, a dogma, and men will die for it

Isa Blagden

I can’t say that I fault Capt. Balch, they were living in very different times than now, but much like today, in his era marketing was more important than meaningful action. I’m from Chicago, everyone that knows me, knows that fact very early in the relationship. The city has always been far from perfect, but many of the people that come from there, wear the Chicagoan title like a badge of honor. There is a genuine love for Chicago that is inspired by all of the cool things it brings to the table along with it being a tough place to come up and thrive in. I believe the same to be true in the United States in general. Realistically speaking though, the United States is only an idea when you’re living here. The specific environment be that city or state is superior to the greater “US citizen” badge. I believe this reality more than anything necessitated the need for a pledge to the general idea of the United States, in that era. 

In Other Words

The goal of the repeated recital of the Pledge of Allegiance is mind and population control through supraliminal messaging. I would be willing to bet the vast majority of us think in a child’s voice or chorus of children voices when we think of the pledge of allegiance. With the exception of military members, and school age children, it’s not often recited…but most of us still know the pledge better than our partner’s social security number. Hell, for a lot of folks in parts of the country, we probably know the phone number to Empire Carpet, formally known as Empire Today, better than we know our own childhood phone number(s). Let’s see, (800) 588-2, 3, Hundred, you know the rest.

I redid the floors in my current house, I never called Empire though. It’s funny to me, because when I was planning to do the floor, their phone number was the first thing I thought of, before actively searching for a local company. I went with the local company whose number I can’t even recall off the top of my head over the nationally known Empire brand. In both examples, on a macro level the goal of the messaging was met. However, when you dig into the details the true intent is missed. When it comes to the idea of loyalty to the United States, I immediately hear a chorus of kids with varying levels of enthusiasm, droning through the words. When it comes to the idea of remodeling floors, I think of Empire Today, when it comes to actually displaying my love for the place I’m from, it’s Chicago baby. Just like dealing with the young lady that required daily confirmation, I said the words, but my goal was really just the…I digress.

What’s Love Got To Do With It

Much like that young lady, the US has something people want and much like me, people are willing to say what needs to be said to get it. The only way of either party getting what is desired by the forced repetition exercise, is a sincere exchange. That takes effort on both sides, which then turns the concept from mutually beneficial manipulation as we’re accustomed to receiving, to genuine love which seems foreign to us. As a veteran, I have represented the country in conflict, doing my part to support the overall mission despite not personally agreeing with the mission, and I did my job well I might add. Though the objectives were met, I did what was asked/demanded of me, I never felt mutual allegiance from the Flag. Quite possibly because the flag, and the republic for which it stands, are not also pledging an allegiance to me. The goal in the pledge is one sided, folks assume mutuality because that’s only right; right? 

Wrong. When it’s real, the feelings, the respect, the admiration, and genuine concern are reciprocated just because, without a deeper motive or agenda. It’s not for the purpose of filling a void or fighting off insecurities. As they say, “what’s understood doesn’t need to be explained”. That’s not to say something is fake just because it’s repeated, it’s only fake when the “why” is driven by selfish or self-serving motives. Don’t get me wrong, I genuinely like the US, and Chicago, and some of the other places I’ve lived. I can’t sincerely say “love” because I know and feel that the feeling is not mutual from these greater ideas, masquerading as cities and nations. In my evolved state, my love and its relation to these locations or these great ideas are equivalent to zooming in on a fractal image, the closer I get to a place to put it, the further I get. That sounds weird but the visual works.

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