I love my country, the United States of America. I say the Pledge of Allegiance every week during my Rotary meeting.
But I know almost everyone loves their country. They love it even when they hate it. As we sing in a hymn at the Unitarian Universalist Church, every country has the bluest sky and sweetest clover, to its' own citizens.
When I was in Uganda at the Rotary clubs, we joined with the Ugandan's in their pledge to their country.
However, when Anabaptist visitors come to our club, they do not join in the pledge. They pledge allegiance to no flag, or to no man. I secretly envy this conviction. It is my heritage, after all. It feels like a commitment to all of humanity, rather than a mindless pledge to a colloquial country with all its' foibles and sins.
But my theology in this area is too shallow, and I cannot in good conscience join them in their silence. I do feel conflicted about this, and perhaps I take the easy way out, the lazy way, even if it may not be right.
As Americans, we celebrate July 4th. This is not the day we became a nation, or finally won the rebellion, or ended a long battle for independence. We instead celebrate the day the Declaration of Independence was signed. The day we chose to bring the fight. We celebrate the day we loaded our weapons for battle.
We are not celebrating the beginning of peace, but the beginning of a fight.
Perhaps that's been our problem all along. I realize we were sucker punched at Pearl Harbor, and some other things, but in general, we want to be bringing it on. We would rather be bombastic and bellicose. Because we are brash Americans, and we are winners. We will wade in and take it. To think the world works any other way would be naive! We are uncomfortable with the logic and order of peace.
I will continue to say the Pledge every week, but for me it's not a mindless tome, or a pledge to the military or capitalism. It's a pledge to my community, and a pledge to all humanity. I don't need to buy the entire bill of goods when I say the Pledge. I am a citizen of the United States, and the world, and I work for peace, not for war.
Happy Independence day.