Wednesday, April 25, 2018

On Patriotism and Allegiance

I've been thinking a lot about the United States of America lately. About patriotism and the pledge of allegiance, specifically. Reading about World War II with Zinashi, strict devotion to one's country doesn't seem like a great idea. It seems...dangerous. Do you know how the Third Reich was built? On patriotism. An encouragement to serve their country, to be above all else German and to take pride in that. Patriotism is misguided at best, cruel at worst.

We should pause before we say any pledge and ask the purpose. Is our US history really so noble and good? Is our present mode of governance and power acceptable? In our homeschool studies, we have read the history of Europeans coming to the Americas, from the beginning, and it is kind of awful. A nation established not on freedom, but on bloodshed and oppression. We did not read some left wing bleeding heart liberal book to come to this conclusion either. We read a pretty traditional book called This Country of Ours, in which things are written to make all these battles and men sound amazing and noble. But when they lay out the facts of what happened, it just comes across as cruel.

The more I look at current events and couple it with history, the more I think we've got little to be proud of and a lot to fix. Could the USA be great? Perhaps. But I don't think it's ever been as great as people make it out to be. We've just believed the propaganda. We've put our hands on our hearts and pledged allegiance to a place where people are still arrested just because they are Black. Where white terrorists murder people and then are taken in without a shot being fired, while a man in a backyard is gunned down for holding a mobile phone. Go back 100 years, and that man might have been lynched for no reason, and white people would've turned up to watch, for entertainment. And before that, he would've been made to work for free, killed if he didn't comply, bred them as if he were an animal and not a human being.

Go back further, and see how we slaughtered the people who were native to the land which is now called the United States of America, in order to force them off and keep it for ourselves. Put them onto reservations, as if that would ever be enough for what we took. Is that freedom? Is that liberty and justice for all? A river of indigenous blood and forced labor from another continent? Is it? Can we honestly say that this was a good and right beginning to a nation?

I am ashamed of my history.

I will not pledge allegiance to that.

But I will also say that, even if the USA were a good and just place to live, I don't think it would be right to pledge allegiance to its flag in any case. I don't mean to be harsh, but isn't that a bit of idolatry? Of attaching our sense of self and belonging to something which does not deserve it? My loyalties do not lie with a particular country. I don't think they should, not matter how good that country is or may seem. If I can be so bold, I will say it goes against the basic tenets of my faith. My loyalty to God is not as strong as it should be in the best of times. Should I not attend to that before I attend to pride in my country? Should I not devote myself to service to my fellow human beings, wherever they may live, whatever they may look like, wherever they may be from? I think that this is what is good and right. My heart belongs to God and my neighbor. I will not pledge allegiance to anyone or anything else.