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Liberty and justice (for most of us)

Biff America

The skies were dark and quiet this July Fourth, a result of the ongoing

drought -the skyrockets were grounded. For me, it was a refreshing change, since it made for quiet reflection and reminded me that you can still love something, silently, without lighting up the sky in a bombastic display of flash and sound.

I’m very grateful to be born in America. I’m particularly grateful to be born: white, male, straight, and with only minimum birth defects, in America. If we could leave out East Orange, N.J., and Gary, Ind., the USA is probably the coolest nation on Earth. Though, that being the case, as I looked at the quiet skies on our country’s birthday, some things bothered me.

I wondered, in a nation as wealthy as ours, why there are millions who still cannot afford health insurance or health care. I was curious why so many of our elderly are neglected and lonely. I was mad a small Diet Coke and bag of popcorn at the local (chain) movie theater costs $8. I wasn’t happy with the fact that plastic surgeons make so much more than teachers, nurses, and paramedics and the fact that Justin Timberlake is a millionaire and Muddy Waters died broke. The unfairness of children with cancer and another season of the “Survivor” TV show made me want to scream at the placid darkness.

One thing that did not bother me in the least (which it seems put me in the minority) was the ruling of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that mandatory recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance in public schools was in violation of the First Amendment.

It is understandable the politicians would posture with a self-righteous indignation. Unlike universal health care, and overpriced movie-theater food, the Pledge of Allegiance was something our elected officials might actually be willing to fight for. Though for the rest of us, who work for a living, this is little more than an interesting lesson in the Court’s quest to ascertain our founding fathers’ Constitutional intentions.

For those who might not know what I’m referring to, a California atheist, with too much time on his hands, filed suit to keep his daughter from being forced to pledge allegiance to God and country in her public school. The Court ruled in favor of the infidel, then promptly put its decision on hold. This, more than likely, will be resolved before next fall. I predict that when all is settled, little will change, and either way, it hardly matters.

It is not a great importance that the original Pledge of Allegiance was written by a Socialist, Baptist minister, and had no mention of God or even the United States. Nor does it matter that the Daughters of the American Revolution and the Knights of Columbus, 30 years apart, lobbied to have the words changed to suit their political and religious doctrines.

What matters is, in this country, at this time, our energies would be better spent on real issues.

If merely reciting dogma would cause children to be better citizens, perhaps the uproar is warranted. If that were the case, why not include a pledge never to smoke cigarettes, never drive drunk and to always floss; thus while turning our children into patriots, we could also reduce lung cancer, highway deaths and dental discomfort. I’m not convinced most of the kids even know what they are saying. Until I was a senior in high school I thought the words “indivisible and with justice for all” were “invisible and just fall.” I had no idea what I was saying.

Whether this court ruling stands or falls, and I personally hope it is the latter, little will change; such is the pity. We live in a great nation, with great wonders and pride and, yes, great problems. I’m confident that someday, as the Pledge boasts, there truly will be “Liberty and justice for all.” In the meantime, let’s not get distracted by the noise and flash, but rather love our nation for its bounty and good intentions while realizing there is still much to be done.

Biff America can be seen on RSN television, heard on KOA and KYSL radio, and read in this and other fine newspapers.


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