Subjects to subject to essays abound. I turned on my telly an hour ago. The first thing confronting me was the ruling of a federal judge that the recitation in public schools of "under god" in the pledge of allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America is unconstitutional because state and church are supposed to be separately constituted in our free country where citizens can do whatever they want to do providing it is not prohibited by civil law. Whether or not god approves is practically moot since god was identified with the will of the People some time ago. Yet god-fearing reactionaries have been in quite an uproar over the ruling; a few of them have promised to swing by the plaintiff's house and burn it down with him in it - he played his answering machine tape for us.
I switched channels to the scene in the senatorial ring of the congressional circus. The comedians gave me due cause to laugh at their antics from the pillow of my metaphysical hill on my couch - I confess my amusement because I have resolved not to lie to be good. Their singular speeches and choral chanting of the pledge struck me as particularly absurd. Surely other viewers were also laughing in the privacy of their chambers although they darst not say so. After a succession of guffaws, I reigned in my bouncing belly and wrote this little note to myself:
"Laugh not at this comedy, for these Fools, who are on the whole wiser than we, are our representatives."
Whereupon I adopted a serious demeanor and walked over to my neighborhood library to look up the original Pledge of Allegiance in the encyclopedia. First of all, I was annoyed to discover the library did not have the Americana. When I complained to the librarian, that the absence of that particular set of encyclopedias had unpatriotic implications, she was merely amused, and said I had made that inference, and that the absence was no implication in the strictest sense since no valid logical relation between the propositions could be demonstrated. What? That got my goat, and reminded me of the rude clerks at Shakespeare's in Manhattan who had a bad habit of correcting customers' pronunciation, but I counted to ten and grudgingly looked up the original pledge cited in the Britannica:
"I pledge allegiance to my Flag and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all." The Youth's Companion, Sept. 8, 1892.
Reading further, I learned the phrase "my flag" was dropped from the pledge in 1924, and "the Flag of the United States of America" was substituted. The United States is one of the few countries given to ritual flag display and pledge recitation designed to inculcate state patriotism in classrooms; the ritual was imposed to counteract the propaganda of certain disgruntled immigrants who were bent on stirring up trouble. Finally, "under God" was interposed in the pledge in 1954 because Cold War patriots wanted to distinguish the United States from its ungodly socialist opponents who did not appreciate the capitalist god and the imperialist policies of his elected representatives. In any event, after reciting the pledge, children would know whose side god is on, and that is a good thing to know.