I'm not the type of mother that easily shrugs away parental duties, at least not on purpose. But I suddenly became aware today that I had so far failed to impart any civics lessons whatsoever unto my child.
"I can say the Pledge of Allegiance," Lily announced out of nowhere earlier today.
"You can?" I responded, triply suprised, proud, and grateful to the school system for picking up my parental teaching slack. Or to be more precise, I thanked the pre-school system.
I then eagerly awaited what I fully expected would be a mangled recitation of the pledge, something along the lines of:
I pledge a Lee Gents
To the flag of the
Night and Skates of America
And to the Republican
For witches stand
Under God, invisible,
With liver teeth and juices for
Instead, my articulate daughter recited the pledge near perfectly. With one exception. She left out the words "under God."
I thought at first maybe she had just forgotten to say them, but when I attempted to insert them on her behalf, it didn't ring any of her bells.
Then I realized I'd just had an up-close-and-personal encounter with Church vs. State.
Do you realize if you Google the words "kids, pledge of allegiance, and controversy" you'll end up with a whopping 76,500 results? The key words "pledge of allegiance constitutionality" generate 319,000 results. A quick scan of the results leads me to believe that nearly every school district in every state in the country has grappled with this issue. And at least one federal circuit court in the US has ruled the mandatory recitation of the pledge in public schools is unconstitutional owing to the inclusion of the phrase "under God."
Anyone who knows me well knows I'm not what you'd call an active religious practitioner. Neither am I an atheist, or a non-theist, or whatever the politically correct term is these days. I can read about and understand the mostly intellectual but sometimes emotionally charged arguments from people on both sides of the pledge issue.
What I have trouble understanding is what all the fuss is about. Kids will ultimately grow up and develop their own religious and spiritual beliefs, hopefully influenced more by their parents than by the schools they attend. Whether or not they say the words 'under God' while reciting the Pledge of Allegiance won't be the ultimate determining factor of their personal religious creed.
So I guess what I'm saying is don't throw the baby out with the bathwater. Say the pledge, with or without the two controversial words. But we shouldn't let two charged words, a mere three syllables in total, stop our schools from helping to instill a sense of national pride and patriotism in our children.
Gosh, it seemed a lot less complicated when I was a kid.