Pledge is ritual, not brainwash |

Pledge is ritual, not brainwash

“I pledge allegiance

to the flag …”

When children say this – and based on a recently passed law in Colorado, they will each school-day morning – they are not in fact vowing their undying devotion to flag, God or country. They are simply repeating something learned by rote and recited without purpose.

Students in Summit County and all of Colorado will repeat the Pledge of Allegiance 177 times this school year. Very few will actually ponder the prose or seek the meaning of the words coming out of their mouths.

But that didn’t stop the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) from filing a lawsuit Tuesday seeking to overturn the law. The ACLU said: “Public expressions of the belief in the ideals of liberty and justice should be voluntary, not coerced.”

The thing is, in the hands of schoolchildren, the Pledge serves a ritualistic purpose, not a patriotic one. Beginning each school day with the same exercise, no matter what it is, has a soothing, readying effect.

Also, any child can abstain.

Still, it would behoove educators to teach some of the history behind the words. Give the kids an understanding of what they are saying and why. Perhaps with that knowledge, more children will reconsider their participation in the practice.

That is doubtful, though. More likely, they’ll see it for what it is: an innocuous way to start each school day with the ritual of a familiar refrain.

Opinions published in this space are formulated by members of the Summit Daily News editorial board: Michael Bennett, Jim Pokrandt, Rachel Toth, Reid Williams, Aidan Leonard, Jason Starr and Martha Lunsky.

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