Pledge of Allegiance...small children

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Pledge of Allegiance...small children

Postby Butrfly_Nirvana » Tue Jan 26, 2010 2:58 pm

I just had a thought/question...

My son will be learning the pledge of allegiance in school, and while I don't usually "nit pick" about it saying "under God", I was curious about it's appropriateness for small children. The reason I say this is for a few reasons:

1. We are not teaching our children to believe in "God", so is it inappropriate for him to say such a pledge?
2. He's very young, so can he even pledge allegiance to ANYTHING, let alone a country?
3. According to Theravada Buddhism, would it be a bit out of line to pledge allegiance to a country?

Don't get me wrong, I like where I live. I'm American, but I don't think that makes me/us better than anyone else at all. I am just curious as to other people's thoughts on this.
Last edited by Butrfly_Nirvana on Tue Jan 26, 2010 3:39 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Pledge of Allegiance...small children

Postby PeterB » Tue Jan 26, 2010 3:05 pm

Forgive a possibly obvious question from a Brit, but do all children make the same pledge ? Are there exemptions for people of different religions or none ?
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Re: Pledge of Allegiance...small children

Postby Butrfly_Nirvana » Tue Jan 26, 2010 3:44 pm

Children in public schools across America are taught this pledge their first year in school, and they have them recite it every morning. I know that there have been a few court cases about schools requiring children of differing religions to say the pledge, but I think that it has remained the same with no alterations made to it. I don't mind our children standing during the pledge out of respect, but I just don't see how a small child can pledge an allegiance to something, and then since we aren't teaching them about "God" it may be confusing to them. Again, I'm not looking to take it to court for changes, just wondering whether this is acceptable to ask from a child as well as if pledging allegiance to a country is still in line with Buddha's teaching.

For those that may not know the pledge of allegiance, it goes as follows:

"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."
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Re: Pledge of Allegiance...small children

Postby meindzai » Tue Jan 26, 2010 3:57 pm

As a child we were Jehovah's witnesses, and so I was exempted from the pledge. I didn't like being a Jehovah's witness much, but I appreciated being exempt from it. I view it more or less as a form of idolitry.

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Re: Pledge of Allegiance...small children

Postby tiltbillings » Tue Jan 26, 2010 4:07 pm

Butrfly_Nirvana wrote:Children in public schools across America are taught this pledge their first year in school, and they have them recite it every morning. I know that there have been a few court cases about schools requiring children of differing religions to say the pledge, but I think that it has remained the same with no alterations made to it. I don't mind our children standing during the pledge out of respect, but I just don't see how a small child can pledge an allegiance to something, and then since we aren't teaching them about "God" it may be confusing to them. Again, I'm not looking to take it to court for changes, just wondering whether this is acceptable to ask from a child as well as if pledging allegiance to a country is still in line with Buddha's teaching.

For those that may not know the pledge of allegiance, it goes as follows:

"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."
I went to Catholic school for 8 years. In addition to a bunch of prayers we would say the pledge. It was alwayd great fun to say, instead of god, say - from time to time - the name of the kid in front of you just loud enough for him or her to hear, causing uncontrollable giggling, which of course would cause a bit of umbridge from the nun. Or there was always, instead of "In the mame of the father and son and holy ghost" a number of variations. My favorite was: "In the name of the former, of the latter and of the wholy other."

As for one's kid saying it or not, getting the kid exempted from having to say it can also make the kid a target. He doies not have to say, "one nation under God" and very likely no one will ever notice.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

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Re: Pledge of Allegiance...small children

Postby notself » Tue Jan 26, 2010 5:26 pm

When I was a child the words 'under God' were not in the pledge. (Yes, I am that old) Just tell your child to leave out under God saying that part is for the children who believe in such a being. Or tell you child to put his hand over his heart and say nothing. Or tell you child to say 'with metta' instead of 'under God'. There are a many solutions to the problem.

For those of you who do not live in the US here is the pledge.

I pledge allegence 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.

The 'under God' part was added to differentiate America from the godless Soviet Union during the cold war.
Though one may conquer a thousand times a thousand men in battle, yet he is indeed the noblest victor who conquers himself. ---Dhp 103
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Re: Pledge of Allegiance...small children

Postby meindzai » Tue Jan 26, 2010 6:46 pm

tiltbillings wrote:
As for one's kid saying it or not, getting the kid exempted from having to say it can also make the kid a target. He doies not have to say, "one nation under God" and very likely no one will ever notice.


When I was a kid, I would stand up, but not put my hand on my heart or do the pledge. Most people didn't even really notice. Sometimes a substitute teacher would try and "correct" the situation at which point I've have to tell her it was against my religion and they'd back off. In fact I can only recall that happening once. All and all it wasn't that alienating. There were other things that were, such as being exempt from holiday activities, but the flag part wasn't bad. In fact I think most of the other kids were more envious that I didn't have to do it.

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Re: Pledge of Allegiance...small children

Postby meindzai » Tue Jan 26, 2010 6:47 pm

You could always have him say "one nation under dog" and claim dyslexia...

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Re: Pledge of Allegiance...small children

Postby PeterB » Tue Jan 26, 2010 6:55 pm

Or " One Nation Under A Groove " while looking cool..... 8-)
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Re: Pledge of Allegiance...small children

Postby David N. Snyder » Tue Jan 26, 2010 6:57 pm

You can get an exemption for religious grounds, like the Jehovah Witnesses do, but rather than risk making them a target (been there, done that), perhaps you could explain to your kids that for your family "God" refers to the Dhamma or perhaps even more appropriate, the devas.

In Buddhism, we don't look up to the devas as absolute or permanent gods, but there is a recollection of devas contemplation / meditation where their good qualities are admired.
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Re: Pledge of Allegiance...small children

Postby Tex » Tue Jan 26, 2010 8:14 pm

I'm just as concerned about first graders being taught to pledge allegiance to a flag and a nation as I am about first graders being told there is a god.

But, as others have said, I would probably tell my kid to recite the pledge along with the others, while explaining a bit more at home about "god" and nationalism.
"The serene and peaceful mind is the true epitome of human achievement."-- Ajahn Chah, Living Dhamma

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Re: Pledge of Allegiance...small children

Postby Butrfly_Nirvana » Tue Jan 26, 2010 8:16 pm

David: That is what I had thought about as a possibility. Maybe just explaining it as a general term to mean "with morals/ethics"...

We do still plan to let the kids take part in some of the holidays, just giving them a different meaning. For example instead of celebrating Easter as most Christians would, we just will be celebrating the arrival of spring and let them color eggs and all that kiddie stuff. Then for Christmas we will make it a holiday to remember our family members and love for one another. Since a lot of holidays have become commercialized anyways there isn't any harm in letting them have their fun and games even if it happens to be around the same time of year as the religious holidays! They're kids--they like painting eggs, and getting a present...who doesn't!?

Back to the topic at hand though: Thank you for your input!
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Re: Pledge of Allegiance...small children

Postby meindzai » Tue Jan 26, 2010 8:27 pm

Tex wrote:I'm just as concerned about first graders being taught to pledge allegiance to a flag and a nation as I am about first graders being told there is a god.



That's been my problem. The whole idea of pledging to a flag gives me the willies.

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Re: Pledge of Allegiance...small children

Postby Ben » Tue Jan 26, 2010 8:34 pm

Hi Butrfly_Nirvana
I would advise you to 'pick your fights wisely'. To me it seems like the pledge is a bit of an empty ritual that nearly all kids go through and instead of making your kids stand out (and others said become a target), explain things to them. One of the things that I did was explain to my kids that God and Jesus are a bit like the easter bunny. They don't really exist except in the minds of some people to make them feel better. I think if you go down that route it takes the power out of a lot of christian indoctination.
kind regards

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Re: Pledge of Allegiance...small children

Postby withoutcolour » Tue Jan 26, 2010 11:52 pm

Ben wrote:Hi Butrfly_Nirvana
I would advise you to 'pick your fights wisely'. To me it seems like the pledge is a bit of an empty ritual that nearly all kids go through and instead of making your kids stand out (and others said become a target), explain things to them. One of the things that I did was explain to my kids that God and Jesus are a bit like the easter bunny. They don't really exist except in the minds of some people to make them feel better. I think if you go down that route it takes the power out of a lot of christian indoctination.
kind regards

Ben


Sadhu sadhu sadhu, Ben.
I think nitpicking out little things like this only is just bringing attention to it. When I was in school, I used to say it and not even really know what any of it meant.
สัพเพ สัตตา สุขีตา โหนตุ
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Re: Pledge of Allegiance...small children

Postby zavk » Tue Jan 26, 2010 11:58 pm

This is probably old news to some of you but I just learned about it yesterday:

Will Phillips, 10-Year-Old, Won't Pledge Allegiance To A Country That Discriminates Against Gays

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/11/1 ... 55709.html


I doubt the boy came to this understanding on his own. He was probably influenced by the attitudes of his parents. So if your son is growing up in an environment in which the questioning of such things as 'God' is encouraged (and it certainly looks like it is :)), he should develop a critical perspective on such things over time.

All the best.
With metta,
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Re: Pledge of Allegiance...small children

Postby Guy » Wed Jan 27, 2010 12:08 am

It is my opinion that school is primarily designed to gradually indoctrinate children, whose minds absorb whatever information goes in without question, into a certain way of thinking and behaving.

...But that might just be my opinion.
Four types of letting go:

1) Giving; expecting nothing back in return
2) Throwing things away
3) Contentment; wanting to be here, not wanting to be anywhere else
4) "Teflon Mind"; having a mind which doesn't accumulate things

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Re: Pledge of Allegiance...small children

Postby bodom » Wed Jan 27, 2010 12:52 am

I recited the pledge for twelve years through school, never gave the word god a second thought and now i am a buddhist. Dont make it an issue unless your kids do.

:anjali:
The heart of the path is SO simple. No need for long explanations. Give up clinging to love and hate, just rest with things as they are. That is all I do in my own practice. Do not try to become anything. Do not make yourself into anything. Do not be a meditator. Do not become enlightened. When you sit, let it be. When you walk, let it be. Grasp at nothing. Resist nothing. Of course, there are dozens of meditation techniques to develop samadhi and many kinds of vipassana. But it all comes back to this - just let it all be. Step over here where it is cool, out of the battle. - Ajahn Chah
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Re: Pledge of Allegiance...small children

Postby fig tree » Wed Jan 27, 2010 1:54 am

I agree with this (40 pages worth of argument):

http://supreme.lp.findlaw.com/supreme_court/briefs/02-1624/02-1624.mer.ami.budtemps.pdf

I think the fact that this isn't the consensus legal opinion is just bias.

I suppose quietly leaving out "under God" is perhaps the easiest solution. I have big misgivings, however, about cooperating even just passively in anybody's efforts to maintain the impression in many people's minds that America is a theist country, aside from a small sprinkling of disloyal people who don't deserve to be considered American:

http://thinkexist.com/quotation/no-i_don-t_know_that_atheists_should_be/207975.html

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Re: Pledge of Allegiance...small children

Postby theravada_guy » Wed Jan 27, 2010 2:09 am

Greetings,

Every time they'd say 'for which it stands' I always pictured a witch, like 'for witch it stands'. I dunno. It was just my translation of it as a younger kid. I never knew what it meant either, as I'm sure a lot of kids don't. In high school, I was into anarchsim and punk rock, so I refused to stand up for it. There were other kids who didn't stand either. At my high school, there was an argument on the issue, and it was settled that those who wanted to stand up and say it, could, and those that didn't want too, didn't have too. So, it was pretty easy going there I guess. I still don't think it's something anyone should have to be required to stand up and recite, especially if it goes against something in their beliefs, whether they be political, religious or on whatever grounds. You can still be patriotic without standing up and reciting the pledge, especially if you don't believe in 'God', or your theological views are different than what it is implied by that sentence in the pledge. Now, the whole issue of making someone do it is whacko in my my opinion. I also don't think children who don't know what the heck it means should have to say it. :cookoo: To this day, I've forgotten the words. I love America. I wouldn't want to live anywhere else. But I also don't think we're superior to anyone else. (Obviously my views have changed since high school ;) ) Well, these are just my random thoughts on the issue.
With metta,

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