21 April 2013

WHERE I STAND [5]: On Pledges of Allegiance for the Young

Recently, I saw this image posted on Facebook. 

Before continuing, on patriotism my brief thoughts are here.
On the second part: I don't. So I took it as a writing prompt. 

I wonder if having children pledge themselves to something  -- whether the state, religion, or an ideology --  that they can't understand, even if only in part, is ethically good or generally bad for the future of whatever they are supposedly pledging towards. How can an allegiance actually be pledged towards what the symbol (flag, Bible, propaganda) represents if the pledger doesn't or can't understand it? With that allegiance already promised and a part of the person's identity, they may never get to a place of real and deep understanding. They may have already settled into a necessary fundamentalism rooted in simplisticness and ignorance. Note I wrote "may" and fully acknowledge the shades of this sort of allegiance and complexities based on faith communities, history teachers,  parents, and all those other crazy variables. To be honest, as you may have guessed, I lean pretty hard towards "generally bad".

Experience tells me that becoming aware of this self-state later in life one is likely to throw this entire allegiance out -- the bad, good, and questionable -- causing great internal and relational disruption. An open and affirming community with which to journey certainly can cushion the blow and be a great asset in such a time. That community might be family, friends, an educational environment, a bartender, or church. But that same community's time and resources would be better spent not having to pick up the pieces from every unraveled onion crying in the corner. Sadly, many, if not most in the faith arena, don't have this sort of community support to turn almost inevitable crisis into great growth and expanded scope of vision.

It is up to us as parents, community members, job fillers, title holders, and decent people to paint a picture of our world, beliefs, and ideologies with generosity but not with blindness to their complexities, failings, and areas of unknowns. To not saddle our entrusted ones with ideas that are at best wishful thinking and at worst self aggrandized propaganda. To not insist on belief in absolutes that we ourselves embrace out of a sort of duty instead of comprehension and understanding. To take stock of our own limited base of knowledge and realize our individual scope. And, so importantly, to affirm that there are mysteries each of us uniquely do not understand that someone else may. 

All of this done with great humility and with those to whom speak and all the other people they will eventually effect chiefly in mind. We are charged with this weighty task and, yet, clearly we can do better.

One plus, this little picture didn't suggest a person was less patriotic or freedom loving if he/she didn't share it! Phew.

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