I Pledge Allegiance to Being a Robot

From a young age, I recited the Pledge of Allegiance, a daily ritual hosted in classrooms, sports events, and other occasions. There is a post circulating on Tumblr criticizing how creepy this is. Last semester, I realized, in my computer science class ironically, that I am basically a robot, programmed to recite these words without thinking about it. As long as I feel the vibe of other people standing up from their seats, this sequence is initiated. I stopped doing the Pledge.The Pledge is defended by many, especially Baby Boomers. I have confessed to not doing it to 2 Baby Boomers, among others, one of which was in the military. It was heartbreaking for me, honestly. I was told that I should still do it because I should be thankful to live in a country like the United States, free as it may be. I should have faith in this country. I should stand up and be proud. I have been chastised by my (white) peers. I doubt they are sincerely passionate about the flag, though. They have never engaged me in a conversation, so their “icebreaker” is to control me by telling me to do the pledge.

But what if I am sitting because I am patriotic? I am very serious about issues such as feminism, racism, and capitalism (just a to name a few). I am thankful that my mother risked her life to escape a communist country and have her family in America, but I sit during the pledge because I think this country could be better.

1. First of all, let’s discuss the origins of the Pledge

The Pledge of Allegiance itself was written in sincerity by Francis Bellamy, a Christian Socialist (source). However, it became popular by a guy who wanted to sell many flags (source).

2. People notice those who do not stand up.

I bring awareness that something is wrong. By not standing up, I provoke the question “what is wrong?” Obviously, not everyone will ask, but at least I stimulate the conversation.

3. I have faith in our generation changing the establishment.

Sitting down to the Pledge is a peaceful protest acknowledging something is wrong with our country. Our country is supposed to be a safe place for everyone, but we have forces in the government (and citizens voting) trying to stop immigration and not protecting women and people of color.

***

I have another idea of showing patriotism. I prefer seeing action over words. Paying my taxes, which benefits those hurt by capitalism by providing health care, WIC, education, libraries, parks, etc. is important. Volunteering, which brings all sorts of people together, is important. Supporting immigration, which brings in people to fill in the future gap of employment that current citizens cannot provide, is important. Not that I agree with military use, but I do believe joining the military is a huge way to show patriotism.

The Pledge of Allegiance means almost nothing to me when I am reciting it mindlessly. More and more students choose not to pledge, whether by social protest or lack of interest. Many people who criticize me for not following the status quo are some of the least patriotic people. They do not care to protect others who came to this country the same way their ancestors did. They do not care to pay for the welfare of those who suffer for their benefit.

For anyone who has served in the military, I will proudly recite the Pledge of Allegiance in their presence. I cannot see myself disrespecting someone who has served our country. They had the misfortune of fighting for the rich. If they gave me permission to sit, I would take the opportunity for other reasons.  If they were trigger happy, I probably would not know otherwise.

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