I believe that I shouldn’t have to say the pledge of allegiance. I believe that I have the right to sit down and not do what everyone else does. I believe that if someone makes you do something that goes against your beliefs, you should stand up for yourself.
Yet every morning at school or at camp I see people do something that they probably don’t believe in. I see my friends and family stand up put their right hand over their heart and recite the pledge of allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, like robots. I personally do not even stand during the pledge. I had a teacher who once during the pledge tried to make me stand but I refused. She decided to go to the principal and find out if I could sit down during the pledge. After they talked, my teacher found out that it wasn’t mandatory for me to stand and recite the pledge. The teacher apologized to me and told me her side of the story. I forgave her but what really bothered me was that many students, faculty, and American citizens have no idea that they don’t have to stand and recite this thing that superficially makes you look like a good American. I might not say the pledge but my whole family follows the law. So how can not standing for the pledge make me un-American?
I was always taught to stand up for what you believe in, but in this case I am sitting down for what I believe in. One of the other reasons I don’t say the pledge is because of this one simple line: “one nation, under G-d.” This four-word line goes against my religion. I am a reformed Jew. I work at my temple and attend Hebrew school and I was taught, and I teach other kids, that they shouldn’t pray to an idol or materialistic objects like a flag. People always told me that you’re not praying your pledging. Pledging is almost the same thing as praying and I only pledge my allegiance to G-d.
I was once told by another teacher who appreciates what I am doing, that I am more of an American for doing this. When I was told this I sat there in a dazed, confused state of mind. After a while I really realized what my teacher was saying. She was telling me that I am standing up for what
America stands for: freedom of speech, freedom of religion and the right to protest. As I thought more about it I guess am more patriotic than those who just go along to appear patriotic. It’s easier to just blend in with the crowd than stand up, or in this case, sit down, for what you believe in.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.