When you sit down you are taking a stand

Nina Fridman, Staff Writer

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Each morning, half-awake children across the country rise simultaneously with their peers and recite a zombie-toned promise to a flag pinned to the highest corner of each and every classroom.

It’s something we would scoff at if it were part of a documentary uncovering the brainwashing tactics of authoritarian regimes. If it were described out of context, we might attribute it to 1950s communist China.

Yet, this act is something we each participate in every day without thinking twice: the Pledge of Allegiance.

My beef with the pledge started at a young age when my elementary school teacher told us about a student she had in her class that felt uncomfortable standing. The realization that not everyone wanted to stand for the pledge made me wonder why I felt as though I needed to. Even so, my discomfort became more pressing when my vocabulary expanded to include the word “secularism”— the idea that there should be a separation between religious belief and government.

Asserting every morning that we are “one nation under God” has never failed to bother me. Our country is not a theocracy, and not all of its citizens believe in the same God, gods or even any god at all. Feeling compelled every morning to submit to the existence of a god that some people don’t believe in can be awkward, uncomfortable and even confusing for younger children who don’t practice religion at home.

Not only that, but to put it bluntly, the pledge is a blatant lie.

No matter how much we want to believe it, no matter how deeply we want to be the leaders of the free world, “liberty and justice for all” is not a reality in our current environment. The president of our country has signed a memo implementing a ban on transgender individuals enlisting in the armed forces, people die from hate crimes and Nazis roam the streets.

There is no liberty for all, and there is no justice.

So why, morning after morning, do we stand up, face a flag and assert a truth that has failed to prove its full validity time and time again?

I suspect that I’m not alone in my discomfort with the pledge, yet I’ve rarely seen many people sitting during it. We’ve become caught up in an atmosphere of “everyone else stands, so I will too.”

It’s 7:40 a.m., and no one is awake. We’ve been used to the same routine for our whole lives, therefore we’re not really thinking about what it means when we stand up and pledge our allegiance. So, when one person stands, we all do.

The time has come to break away from our routine and think about the potential hypocrisy in what we’re saying when we stand up and recite the pledge.

It’s not to say that no one should stand. If you want to stand, then do it. I’m questioning everyone who stands because they think they have to, because they always have or because  it would be awkward if they didn’t.

Stop standing if you don’t want to.

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The official site of the Glenbrook North High School student-run newspaper.
When you sit down you are taking a stand