Sunday, October 25, 2009

Obedience Training

Miss Montessori,

Ella came home from school last week upset because she had not wanted to pledge her allegiance to the flag in class. She informed us that if she didn't recite the pledge, she would get in trouble. Dawson and I have tried very hard to teach our children to think for themselves and question everything that is taught to them and most of our children, including Ella, have many problems with pledging their allegiance to a piece of cloth that they feel they owe nothing to.

The Pledge of Allegiance was created in 1892 and did not originally contain the words, "one nation, under god". The phrase “under God” was added in the late 1940’s and made popular in the 1950’s.When Congress added the words “under God,” to the Pledge in 1954, it was actually a political move to try to gain favor with the Christian electorate, not for a religious purposes. The Pledge of Allegiance was written by a Baptist minister named Francis Bellamy. Frances did not deem it necessary to insert God into the text because unlike many Christians today, he understood that we needed a separation of church and state. He understood that the founding fathers created this separation to protect us all from religious tyranny and the majority.Frances was later kicked out of the church for practicing socialism. He believed very strongly that "all men are created equal". He didn't just preach such utopian ideas, he wanted to see a society where we were all equal, socially and economically.

When it comes to the history of this county, I believe in giving my children the facts, not sugar coded utpoain stories and to the extent that the Pledge is about history, it is false. Many of our people were enslaved and denied any voice in our government, not to mention the fact that this country was stolen from the Native Americans and dosen't even belong to us.Given our history and the double standards that exist between races, classes, ages, sexual orientation, religions and gender, "with liberty and justice for all" is just not a true statement. As “history,” the Pledge is facile and absurd. I believe that children should be taught real history rather than be forced to stand up and repeat the same phrase over and over.

As I mentioned before, I want nothing more than for my children to be free thinkers and I don't think that pledging blind loyalty for one's country is something that I want my children to be participating in. It used to be mandatory to salute the flag at the end of the pledge, Hitler liked the official pledge salute so much that he later adopted it for his own use to espouse blind loyalty and nationalism to his country. Because of this we no longer salute the flag like we originally did.

Some people in our family believe in God and some don't, Ella does not and it makes her extremely uncomfortable to pledge her allegiance to one nation under God. I don't think that children should have to pledge their allegiance to something they may not believe in. If a public institution like a school requires or expects them to do so, that's the state and the society dictating an exercise.That's We the People, without whom the public institution could not exist, directing an oath that should be heartfelt. If it's not heartfelt, why even bother?

We have told Ella that the decision to pledge her allegiance to the flag is hers alone to make. She is a smart and beautiful little girl who has her own thoughts and beliefs about the world around her. We ask that you please respect her decision and support her in her free thinking.

~Crystal Busenbark~

Friday, October 23, 2009

A Capital of Inspiration

"New York is a tremendous generator of inspiration. It is a capital of inspiration... You feel at a place where reality is most intense."
~David Lehman

"If I'd lived in Roman times, I'd have lived in Rome. Where else?
Today America is the Roman Empire and New York is Rome itself."
~John Lennon