Friday, October 21, 2016

Pledge Across the Centuries

Centennial, 13 Stripes, 37 Stars
I pledge allegiance
to my flag
and the Republic for which it stands
one nation, indivisible
with liberty and justice for all
Bicentennial, 13 Stripes, 50 Stars
I pledge allegiance
to the flag
of the United States of America
and to the Republic for which it stands
one Nation under God, indivisible
with liberty and justice for all
Tricentennial, 13 Stripes, 1 Planet
I pledge my heart and mind
to the planet Earth
and to the pursuit of liberty and justice for
conscious creatures, a sustainable environment
and beautiful experiences everywhere

Divisiveness reigns at the moment like no other time that I can remember. This polarized patriotism inspired me to contemplate and explore what ought to lie at the heart of patriotism. With poetic exposition and found art elements I use the U.S. Pledge of Allegiance of the past, present and of a speculative future to pursue this.  

Although in the poem I imply a recitation of the pledge in 1876, technically the pledge wasn't written until 1887.  Still, I felt stepping from the original 19th Century form to the current version reflects a significant refinement of what was perceived to be required of the patriotic American. In particular, the addition of "under God" in 1954 to the official text underscores how the ideological right persisted to integrate a monotheistic belief component into the common interpretation of patriotism. 

(Aside: while reading this poem at The Without Limits Coffee House, I made a point of standing at the start of the poem, sitting down for the middle stanza and rising again for the third. This was to demonstrate support for the Sit Out the Pledge effort which seeks to remove "under God" from the pledge as a step toward a more mindful pledge)

Personally, I recited the pledge pretty much mindlessly in school growing up.  My position on the pledge has evolved alongside my worldview.  To this ends, the third stanza envisions a admittedly very progressive pledge for the Tricentennial year 2076.  I aimed to embody a positive, unifying, humane pledge with simple encouragement toward a greater, global patriotism, a patriotism that reaches beyond nationalism. Importantly, this speculative pledge is something the entire world could recite with pride, respect and hopefulness.

(Note: Namaste was added as the final line primarily because it has the punctuating character of an amen.  It also has an element of foreignness which emphasizes a joyful, global diversity .  I translate "namaste" to mean "in you i see sacredness" where the you in this case includes other people, creatures, the environment, creativity and the world as a whole.)


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