BENNETT: Pledge of allegiance implications lost with repetition



If someone were to observe an average day at Roseville High School, they’d see barely-awake students muddle their way through a groggy first period and an unproductive session of ROAR before starting their second period class. And then they’d see students stand up like zombies to a meaningless monotone mantra. “I pledge allegiance, to the flag…”

Now, some people would argue that the pledge of allegiance isn’t meaningless. They would say it’s a form of patriotism and demonstrates “love” or “appreciation” for the United States. And hey, I’m all for people showing their patriotic side. When I hear the national anthem, even my inner (and very well hidden) patriot peeks out for a couple of seconds. If the pledge of allegiance makes you feel something, if you believe every word with complete and total conviction, who am I to tell you otherwise?

The problem is, for so many people, the pledge of allegiance is meaningless. They do not think about the words that reach their ears or pass their lips. They comprehend the lyrics to songs on the radio more than the words of promise they make everyday. And this fact, more than any other, is frightening, because they are swearing off their life and they don’t even know it.

By pledging allegiance to a country, a person makes a promise to be loyal, committed and obedient to that country. Most students are told to make this decision as soon as they can speak, and reaffirm it every day after. Why not have students vote, drink, drive at that age too, since they are so capable of making informed decisions?

Of course, by the time students reach high school, they are probably educated enough to comprehend what “allegiance” means, and might even be able to piece together the definition of pledging allegiance. But the students don’t piece it together, because at that point it is so ingrained in their minds that they do what is asked of them without thought or question.

The pledge of allegiance is a rather poor attempt at indoctrinating people into loyalty. However, the students do not think about the words enough to believe them. The brainwash is only skin deep, and merely serves to put students at risk for undervaluing allegiance and waste everyone’s time.

Then there are the actual words of the pledge. “One nation under God” is a little presumptuous. Roseville High is a school full of diversity and the United States is a country that guarantees people religious freedom. To say we are under God is to disregard the beliefs of people who practice certain religions or are non-religious. And by having those people participate, you force them to go against their beliefs.

However, none of this actually matters because students do not have to take part in the pledge of allegiance, right? Even if all the other students stand, you can still opt to stay seated, right? After all, it is a well known fact that peer pressure does not affect the decisions of high-schoolers whatsoever. We as students are completely independent of social conformity and are not at all self-conscious.

So all you students who don’t want to act like brainwashed drones should just push down your insecurities and go against the social norm, forsaking the minimal effort it takes to fit in. Because that is going to happen.

The pledge of allegiance may be optional officially, but the rules of conformity say otherwise. And consequently, even people who do not want to participate are likely to go along with it anyway. Worst of all, the problem won’t even be mentioned, because most students don’t know it’s there. They are too busy following protocol to bother to think for themselves.